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County has help for failing septic systems: Health department got loan from Ohio EPA

The Lawrence County Health Department recently received a grant to help qualified homeowners repair or replace failing septic systems.

The Ohio EPA awarded a $150,000 loan to the county, which is principal forgiveness and does not require repayment.

The program’s goal is to improve the quality of life for low-income residents by repairing or replacing failing home sewage treatment systems at an affordable cost. In addition to addressing potential health concerns, local water quality will benefit from the improvements. Funding can also be used to assist homeowners that need to connect to an existing sanitary sewer and properly abandon their septic system.

Environmental health clerk Paige Bowen said the health department doesn’t have an estimate of how many failing septic systems there are in Lawrence County.

“That’s why we are trying to get this information out there, so we can survey to see how many homes we have and we can figure out how much money we need to put into this,” Bowen said. “Right now, we have a certain budget. If we exceed that, or we don’t exceed that budget, we can go from there. Right now, we are just taking applications.”

To qualify, the owner of the home has to fill out an application at the Lawrence County Health Department. Bowen said the applications can be mailed, emailed or the homeowner can stop by and pick up an application.

“There are many factors, but if the system is broken or out of date, we will come out and take a look at it,” Bowen said.

Applicants must meet certain things to qualify for the program including being the owner of the home, property taxes must be current and the gross household income must meet the program criteria of the 2018 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.

If the combined income for a household is below 100 percent of the poverty level, 100 percent of the project costs will be paid. If your income level is above the 100 percent poverty level, 85 percent of the system costs will be paid. The remaining 15 percent must be remitted to the commissioners before work can commence.

A copy of a homeowner’s property deed and income information in the form of a statement letter from an income source such as employer, Social Security Administration, Bureau of Workman’s Compensation, etc. for the previous 12 months. Statements are required for every person 18 years or older residing on the property.
Order of the receipt of the applications will be considered as a final factor.

Once final program material is approved by the Ohio EPA, the Lawrence County Health Department will begin accepting program applications from homeowners and job bids from local contractors.

Anyone with questions can call and ask for sanitarians, Melissa Mullins or Paul O’Banion, at 740-532-3962.