Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ohio EPA program helps fund homeowners' failing septic tank systems

In an effort to protect both ground water and surface water resources the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is working with various Ohio county health districts and county commissions to provide more than $13 million in principle-free accounts to property owners with troubled home sewage systems.

These monies are being channeled to 51 of Ohio’s 88 counties this year, the dollars funneling down from a long-standing program. Its intent is to keep sewage from leaching into water sources from aged and oft-times languishing home waste-treatment systems, typically septic tanks.

Fully 31 percent of Ohio’s home waste-treatment systems are failing and thus are endangering Ohio’s ground water supplies as well as threatening waterways with human waste pollution, says Ohio EPA spokesman Mike Settles.

“Our goal is to reduce this failure rate as much as possible,” Settle says. “It really is a great way for a home owner to fix a waste treatment system with the money being awarded at zero percent cost.”

For 2017, a total of 51 Ohio counties/health districts have been awarded household sewage treatment system principal-forgiveness loans totaling $13,169,000. The program has been offered since 2011, Settles says, with varying dollar amounts. The program was not offered in 2014.

Settles explained that eligible homeowners in the 51 designated counties will receive 100 percent, 85 percent, or a 50 percent share in principal forgiveness for the cost to repair or replace their failing septic system.

Importantly, says Settles “the percentage is dependent on family household income levels.”

“The program’s loans also make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program; or WRRSP, for short,” Settles says.

Created in 1989, the program provides below-market interest rate loans for communities to improve their wastewater treatment systems.

Settles says too that Ohio EPA’s revolving loan funds are partially supported by federal grants and designed to last indefinitely through repayment of loans and investments in bonds. The loan program is managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with help from the Ohio Water Development Authority.

Ohio EPA is responsible for program development and implementation, individual project coordination, and environmental and other technical reviews/approvals of projects seeking funds, Settles says.

“To reiterate, the loan agreements are between Ohio EPA and the county commissioners or health departments,” Settles says “The programs are administered by the health departments.”

Thus, Settles says, homeowners concerned about their household sewage treatment systems should contact their local health department to see if this program is available and if they’re eligible for assistance.

For even further information Settles says to visit the Ohio EPA web page dedicated to the program at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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