Rapp residents asked to inspect septic systems

Septic system not pumped or inspected in the last 10 years? As a homeowner, it is in your best interest and beneficial for local streams and groundwater to maintain your system — and the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District is here to help.

If you have not had your septic system pumped out in the last three years and you are a resident of Rappahannock County, you are eligible for the district’s septic cost-share program. A basic pump out of your septic tank and an inspection is the best insurance program for maintaining a functional system. The program offers 50 percent reimbursement up to $150 for pump outs alone (it’s up to $240 for lower income residents).

Better yet, the program covers pump outs with inspections at $1,000 reimbursement (up to $1,600 for low income). Upon inspection, if any issues arise, the grant also covers 50 percent of repairs or replacements. Again, some participants, depending on annual income, may receive up to 80 percent cost-share reimbursement for these.

The program is for existing residences only and does not include new construction. Applicants must be approved by the CSWCD Board before any of the septic work is completed. The program starts with a simple application and a home visit from a conservation specialist.

The program is entirely voluntary, and in addition to the benefits to the homeowner, the goal is to improve Rappahannock County’s surface and groundwater quality. Numerous streams in Rappahannock County have excess levels of E. coli bacteria and do not meet the water quality standards for E. coli bacteria. The CSWCD has multiple grants for cost-sharing septic management practices that will be helping decrease excess bacteria and excess nutrients from getting into Rappahannock County streams and groundwater. The cleaner our streams are the more recreation, people and wildlife they can support.

Some of the reasons septic systems fail include water flowing into the drain field faster than it can percolate through the soil, adding substances like grease, paint, and cleaning solution into the system — which kills beneficial bacteria in drain field — and tree roots or woody plants growing on or in your drain field. Four things that you can do as a homeowner to protect your system are regularly inspect and pump your system, use water efficiently and prevent leaks, not dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets and maintain your drain field.

As homeowners and residents of the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District, we ask you to think about what normally is “out of sight and out of mind” and take action while we have access to grants to reduce the cost of maintaining your septic system for the benefit of everyone. Please contact our office at 540-825-8591 if you would like to get the application process started or if you have any questions. We look forward to working with you.

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