The Clarifier made its debut in July of 1955 as a bi-monthly newsletter from the Conference of Wisconsin Sewerage Works Operators (COWSWO - a.k.a., The Conference). The first issue began by welcoming readers to the newsletter, then asking them to provide information concerning plant operation or anything that would interest operators. All state operators were mailed the first issue and then readers were invited to join for $1.50 annual dues.

For many years the Clarifier was a one-page newsletter hand typed on letterhead with brief announcements, only 2 to 3 lines for each item reported on.

View PDF scans of the first two issues of the Clarifier as published by COWSWO. The September issue also contains the fall conference agenda. (Take special notice of the day of the week the conference was held-a Saturday.) The letterhead also details the organizational structure of COWSWO; Officers, committees, and area chairman of the time. To the lower left, under legislative is G. Bernauer after whom the prestigious Bernauer award is named after.

July 1955 Issue

September 1955 Issue

Though it is believed that the early COWSWO organization mailed occasional newsletters, the Clarifier was the first attempt to provide timely news to members on a regular basis.

Without ads, membership dues were needed to pay for printing and distribution. As funds dwindled, attempts were made to have a manufacturer sponsor an issue. The Clarifier requested $25.00 to cover costs of distribution for what basically amounted to an ad in the publication. In 1961, the Clarifier was in danger of not being able to publish issues bi-monthly and may have had to skip issues. However, to keep the Clarifier going, Jerry Dohohue Engineering of Sheboygan added unspecified funds to the treasury to keep the Clarifier solvent. Later that same year, Lew Allen & Son, Dick Allen sponsored the June issue in what was probably the first ad for the Clarifier (see "Excerpts from Early Clarifiers" above).

Browsing through early Clarifiers, four news items stand out:
1. Pay your dues! Dues were a constant battle with members. In fact, when the organization changed its name in 1967, one of the first issues tackled was delinquent dues published in the Clarifier.
2. Finding a recipient for the Bernauer award. Historically, the Bernauer award is the most prized award given by the organization.
3. Conference and Short Course activities. Of course, as with today's Clarifier, the conference is still one of the most important activities of the organization.
4. Send in your news. The early Clarifiers always asked for new items.

Other activities reported include job transfers, an untimely death, broken leg of an operator, and occasionally there was a good fishing story thrown in.

The Clarifier documented an important turning point in the organization, the unpopular decision to cancel the 1967 spring Short Course. Though the organization had discussed changing its name in past years, it was this event that initiated the change. No longer would there be a spring and fall conference, but efforts would be concentrated on one fall conference. These details can be read in scans of the 1967 January and March Clarifiers.

January, 1967 Clarifier - Discusses the postponement of the Short Course and the new direction the organization could take. Included is a competition for a name change. (BTW, the winner received a $25.00 savings bond)

March, 1967 Clarifier - Notifies members of a letter sent to the director of the Department of Resource Development describing their disappointment over the Short Course cancellation. The bottom of this issue is torn off because members had to vote on changing the COWSWO Constitution that switched elections from the spring to the fall conference. (The Wisconsin Department of Resource Development was newly created in 1965 and took over duties of pollution control from the Wisconsin Board of Health. Obviously, this Department didn't see a need for the Short Course and this decision was not very popular with the organization. Two years later, The Department of Resource Development would be combined with the Department of Conservation forming the Department of Natural Resources in 1967.)

Silver Edition of the Clarifier - Marked 25 years of publication.

Clarifier Editors

Though no official editor could be found for early Clarifiers, the first newsletter does ask members to send information for publication to Frank I. Vilen of the Kenosha Sewerage Plant. Letterhead from the second Clarifier does mention R. Frazier of Oshkosh as head of the Clarifier, and F. Vien as the head of the newsletter. Details on the early structure are sketchy, but these men were obviously early leaders of the publication. In October of 1957, Roger Scovil of the Madison Oscar Mayer plant served as the first guest editor. Later newsletters do mention Frank I. Vilen as the editor (April 1961), thus somewhere in that time span a decision was made to name Frank as the editor.

1955 - Frank I. Vilen of Kenosha
1957 - Guest editors tried-later Clarifiers name Frank    I. Vilen as the editor.
1960 - Roger Scovil temporally fills in for F. I. Vilen
1961 - Frank I. Vilen resigns. Assistant editors, Roger Scovil & Roger Valstad assume duties.
1963 - John Wallendall of Waupun
1973 - Al Winter of Kaukauna
1980 - Lynda Bently & Robert Deering of Green Bay
1985 - Lynda Bently & C. J. Townsend of Green Bay
1987 - Lynda Bently, C. J. Townsend, & Dan Busch of Green Bay
1992 - Dan Busch of Green Bay

This list does not include all the countless co-editors, Clarifier committee members, and contributors. The Clarifier is nothing without its members. Thanks to all of you.

The Clarifier's growth is evidenced by the number of pages published through the years. The early Clarifiers were basically one page, typed front and back, with a few inserts for special events like the conference.

1955 - 1 to 2 pages
1972 - 4 pages
1974 - 6 pages
1975 - 8 pages
1977 - 10 pages
1978 - 12 pages
1986 - 16 pages
2001 - 20 pages
2003 - 40 pages
2005 - 55 pages

Clarifier Publishing - A Story of Progress and Growth

Timeline of the Clarifier's History

Clarifier Letterhead Logos

We will probably never know what the founders of the Clarifier had in mind 50 years ago. Did they think their one page newsletter would grow into a 55+ page publication? A newsletter that was once sent to less then 200 members of the COWSWO would now be distributed to over 2,000 members of the WWOA. Through this progression, one thing has remained the same, The Clarifier is by Operators and it is for the Operators of this organization. The Clarifier-a survivor of progress and change.


Become a Member

Becoming a member of WWOA provides many membership benefits including:

  • Operator Seminars
  • Scholarships & Tuition Aid
  • “Clarifier” – our official educational publication
  • Discounts on our Annual Conference and other programs
  • Yearly awards recognizing professionalism and support in the wastewater field