For over 60 years, CASA has been the leading voice for public wastewater agencies on regulatory, legislative and legal issues. We are an association of local agencies, engaged in advancing the recycling of wastewater into usable water, generation of renewable energy, and other valuable resources. Through these efforts we help create a clean and sustainable environment for Californians.
In the mid-1950s, former State Senator John Nejedly, serving as counsel for the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD), identified a need for a professional organization to represent all of the state’s sanitary districts. The California Sanitary District Association was formed in 1956 and would eventually become the foundation for what the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA). Castro Valley, CCCSD, Cupertino, Oro Loma, Stege, and Union Sanitary Districts were instrumental in the development of the association.
Name Changes Reflect Broader Membership
CASA’s bylaws were amended in 1961 to allow membership by county sanitation districts, and the CASA Board also voted to change the name to the California Sanitary and Sanitation Districts Association. The organization prospered as the larger sanitation districts, including Orange County Sanitation District, County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, and East Bay Municipal Utility District became members. By that time, member agencies were responsible for treating the wastewater for more than 50 percent of the population in California.
In the early 1970s, CASA’s bylaws were again amended to expand eligibility to include any public agency authorized to collect, treat, or dispose of sewage and waste or to reclaim wastewater and our name was changed to the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA).
Need for Executive Director Identified
Under the leadership of President Fred Harper (Orange County Sanitation District) and Past President Tom Hardcastle (Novato Sanitary District), CASA recognized the need for a professional legislative advocate and executive director to maintain an office in Sacramento. Ken Norris was appointed CASA’s first executive director in 1961. Ken served until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1973, when Michael Dillon with Michael F. Dillon & Associates was selected to succeed Ken.
Growth Leads to Expansion of Programs
As CASA gained experience and recognition at the state level, it began to extend its activities to the federal level. In 1985, CASA hired its first Washington, D.C. lobbyist, Eric Sapirstein, who continues to serve the association today.
As both federal and state laws and regulations continued to impact member agencies, the CASA Executive Board met in 1991 to review and chart goals for the future. In 1992, upon a recommendation of the Executive Board, the membership approved the hiring of a director of regulatory affairs. After an extensive search, Roberta (Bobbi) L. Larson was selected. Under her leadership, the Air, Land and Water Technical Forums were established. The forums interfaced with the technical advisory committee Tri-TAC, and CASA member agencies received added benefit from the establishment of the regulatory affairs program. In 1999, the program was expanded to include legal affairs.
In the early 21st Century, CASA’s leadership role in the wastewater industry continued to grow. CASA staff responsibilities increased to meet changing demands, membership growth, website development, and online conference registration. In 2001,cities were recognized as equal partners as the membership unanimously approved an amendment to the bylaws allowing full membership of cities. With city membership, CASA’s influence grew, and the addition of the largest cities brought the sewered population served by CASA member agencies to 90 percent. In 2001, an appointed associate representative was added as a voting member of the Executive Board.
In 2003, the Executive Board, with the approval of the membership, established a biosolids program to address the ever-increasing need for biosolids management, education and outreach. Marlaigne Dumaine served as CASA’s first biosolids program manager. Greg Kester succeeded her as biosolids program manager in 2007.
In accordance with a five-year strategic plan, the Board decided to bring on board a new executive director who could focus on association management and member services. In spring 2006, Catherine Smith was selected for this position. Mike Dillon continued in the role of state legislative advocate. In 2012, the Executive Board determined it was time for CASA to employ a full time dedicated executive director conversant in wastewater issues who could serve as the face of CASA. Following a statewide recruitment, Bobbi Larson was selected to serve as the first full time executive director. By 2013, CASA had a staff of five and dedicated office space in downtown Sacramento.
Today, with a staff of six full time employees and three consultants, CASA continues to broaden its activities and services to meet the needs of its membership. CASA is a strong advocate for its members, and is accepted as a trustworthy source of information with federal, state and regional entities.
As CASA’s influence has grown, so has the number of associate members – engineering consultants, accountants, attorneys, and financial institutions – active in the field of water quality. These individuals and organizations are available to CASA members seeking professional services.
CASA holds conferences and seminars annually, and has attracted outstanding professionals in the field of water quality to share their expertise, knowledge, and insight with its membership.
A key to CASA’s success has been the structure and balance of the organization. CASA’s leadership comes from a combination of public officials, attorneys, and professional staff, making it one of the preeminent wastewater associations in the United States.
Mission & Vision
Mission: The California Association of Sanitation Agencies provides leadership, advocacy and information to our members, legislators and the public, and promotes partnerships on clean water and beneficial reuse issues that protect public health and the environment.
Vision: CASA is the most trusted and valued influence on clean water and renewable resource law, regulation and policy on issues important to CASA members and the public they serve.