Help available for septic fixes

Residents in several areas of the district are eligible for reimbursement of half the expense of maintaining, repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems. All of the northwest section of Madison County that drains to the Hughes River is eligible, as is nearly all of Rappahannock County — except for the very northern section that drains directly to the Rappahannock River and the Jordan River. Western Culpeper County, including Boston and Slate Mills, is also eligible.

Although the two areas are funded by different grants, the financial opportunity for landowners is identical. The goal of the programs is also the same — to lessen the real or potential pollutant loads from ailing, failing or non-existent septic systems that enter groundwater 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.

Program participants are eligible for several different payments depending on the actual needs of their system. Reimbursement payments are typically 50 percent, although they can go as high as 75 for individuals who qualify for low-income status.

Maximum payments to property owners with average income levels are $150 maximum toward a pump out and inspection; $3,000 maximum toward a repair; $4,000 toward a conventional system or $4,500 if a pump is required to move the liquids to a drainfield; and $10,000 toward 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 district. Information on the programs, including if your address is eligible and how to tell if your system may need help, is available by calling 540-948-7531 or 540-825-8591.

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