Septic system financial assistance available

By Greg Wichelns
District Manager, CSWCD

Residents and businesses in most of Rappahannock County continue to be eligible for reimbursement of 50 percent of the expense of maintaining, repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems. All of the county that drains to the Hughes, Hazel, Thornton, Covington and Rush rivers, including all of Battle Run, is eligible.

This is essentially all of the county except a small area north of Amissville and the Flint Hill and north area. Also included in the project area are the Etlan and Nethers areas of Madison County and Culpeper County west of Reva, Griffinsburg and Monumental Mills.

The goal of the program is to lessen the real or potential pollutant loads from ailing, failing or non-existent septic systems, that enter ground water or surface water in these areas. One particular pollutant, fecal coliform bacteria or E. Coli, has been identified as being higher than expected by state water quality standards although other pollutants can also be involved. An additional benefit to the property owner is the assurance that their system is up to standards and functioning properly.

Program participants are eligible for several different payments depending on the actual needs of their system. Reimbursement payments are typically 50 percent although can go as high as 75 percent for individuals who qualify for low-income status. In extreme situations, 100-percent financial assistance may be identified through partnerships with other funding sources. Maximum payments to property owners with average income levels are $150 towards a pump out and inspection, $3,000 towards a repair, $4,000 towards a conventional system or $4,500 if a pump is required to move the liquids to the drain field, and $10,000 towards an alternative engineered system.

Pump outs and inspections are encouraged and if further repairs are indicated the owner is still eligible for the repair payments. Applications are required and need to be approved prior to the work being done or funding can be declined. Free assistance with initial assessments of individual system needs is available from the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD). Reimbursement payments are made promptly once the work has been completed. Participation is entirely voluntary, and assistance from the CSWCD is free of charge.

Funding for the project has been very popular with residents and approximately $300,000 has previously been allocated to projects. The state-funded project, originally secured by the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors and administered with the assistance of the CSWCD, began in 2007 as part of a larger water quality improvement initiative sponsored by the supervisors. 

It expanded into adjacent Madison and Culpeper in 2009 under a multi-year grant secured by the CSWCD. Funding for this opportunity is guaranteed through December of this year at this time. Funds are available, so this is a good time to make application. For further information on the program, to determine if your address is in the eligible areas or how to tell if your system may need help, contact the CSWCD at 540-948-7531 or 540-825-8591.

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