State dollars help Puget Sound residents improve, replace problem onsite septic systems
Homeowners and small businesses in seven counties bordering Puget Sound and Hood Canal are starting to take advantage of a $4.2 million program intended to help residents repair, replace or improve their existing onsite septic systems.
The Washington Department of Ecology provides the low-interest loans and grants to local and tribal governments. The onsite septic repair and replacement program, approved by the Legislature, is among Gov. Chris Gregoire’s early efforts to achieve an environmentally sustainable Puget Sound by 2020.
Unwanted nutrients in Puget Sound fuel algae growth. When algae die, they consume oxygen. Low oxygen levels can suffocate fish and other sea life, and contribute to the growing dead zones in Hood Canal.
The state Department of Health estimates there are about 500,000 on-site septic systems throughout the 12-county Puget Sound region. About 5 percent of theses systems are estimated to be failing and causing pollution problems. Many local health agencies have been surveying and targeting inadequate systems for upgrade, repair or replacement.
Although the average cost is significantly lower, in some situations homeowners and small businesses can spend up to $25,000 to improve or repair their existing onsite septic system.
The following information describes the grant and low-interest loan programs and provides the names and numbers of local officials administering the programs in Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Skagit and Thurston counties:
Hood Canal Coordinating Council ($601,807 in grants) – The Hood Canal Regional Septic Loan Program addresses pollution problems caused by failing septic systems that need repair or improvement throughout Kitsap, Jefferson, and Mason counties and on Port Gamble S’Klallam and Skokomish Indian tribal lands. On behalf of the Council, Kitsap County has contracted ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia, to administer state money and funds from private foundations, as a non-profit public-private partnership. ShoreBank gives priority to local engineers and contractors to repair or replace on-site septic and sewer systems. Loans are available on a sliding scale, depending on a homeowner or business’ income.
Contact: Terry Hull, Hood Canal Septic Loan Program Manager, 360-427-2875, email@example.com
Island County ($121,000 in grants; $200,000 in low-interest loans) – The new grants and loans supplements the county’s existing local loan program and provide financial assistance to property owners to repair or replacement failing or poorly functioning on-site septic systems. Homeowner applications will be ranked based on water quality impacts, threat to public health, and the property owner’s financial need.
Contact: Kathleen Parvin, 360-678-7914, firstname.lastname@example.org
Skagit County ($409,723 in grants; $2 million low-interest loans) -- The primary goal of this local project is to expand and enhance the county’s existing highly successful program and improve the water quality in Upper and Lower Skagit and Samish river basins by helping homeowners repair or replace failing on-site septic systems. Skagit County will leverage the low-interest loan funds with grant funds to offer county homeowners the best possible financial assistance packages.
Contact: Alison Mohns, Environmental Field Specialist, Skagit County Planning and Development Services, 360-336-9410, ext. 5578, email@example.com
Thurston County ($183,735 in grants; $250,000 in low-interest loans) – The financial package expands Thurston County’s existing program to make low-interest loans and grants available to property owners to finance the repair or replacement of failing on-site sewage systems, or connect to sewer lines where available. The program will provide assistance to financially-distressed property owners whose faulty septic systems pose a public health or water quality risk to Puget Sound.
Contact: Debra Baker, 360-754-3355 ext. 7521, Bakerd@co.thurston.wa.us
Pierce County ($183,735 in grants; $250,000 in low interest loans) – Pierce County will make low-interest loans and grants available to property owners to finance the repair or replacement of failing on-site septic systems, or help them connect to sewer systems where available. The program’s priority is to provide assistance to financially-distressed property owners to repair or replace faulty on-site septic systems or septic systems that pose a public health or water quality risk to Puget Sound.
Contact: Dan Wrye, 253-798-4672, firstname.lastname@example.org
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