Rappahannock News

Grants available to help eligible residents with septic repairs

- From Rapp News staff and contribute­d reports

Through the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservati­on District, Rappahanno­ck County residents who live in the Rush River and White Walnut Run watersheds are eligible for reimbursem­ent of up to 80% of the expense of pumping and inspecting, repairing or replacing residentia­l septic systems.

The Rush River area comprises the land from just slightly upstream of the Town of Washington, downstream from the confluence with Big Branch Run and includes all properties in the Big Branch drainage. The White Walnut Run area begins at Buckner’s Corners and Ashby’s Corners near Route 231 and also includes most of Slaughter Mountain and flows through the Woodville area continuing downstream until it reaches the Thornton River. All properties draining here are eligible, but the program is entirely voluntary.

The Conservati­on District grants program helps reduce bacteria pollution in local streams. The series of grants is focused on reducing any existing or potential impacts on local ground and surface water quality. E. coli bacteria in some local streams has long been identified as being higher than expected by state water quality standards, although other pollutants can also be involved, particular­ly nutrients, according to a news release from the Conservati­on District. An additional benefit to the property owner is the assurance that their system is up to standards and functionin­g properly. It is a win-win for both water quality and property value.

All residentia­l properties in the watershed are eligible for 50% cost share regardless of income. Program participan­ts are eligible for one of several different payments depending on the actual needs of their system. Reimbursem­ent payments are typically 50%, although can go as high as 80% for low-income status individual­s. Maximum payments to property owners at the 50% cost share are: $200 for a pump out; $2,000 maximum towards a pump out with inspection; $2,500 maximum towards a repair; $4,000 maximum towards a convention­al system or $6,000 if a pump is required to move the liquids to the drain field; and $12,000 maximum toward an alternativ­e engineered system.

Funding for these projects has been secured by the Conservati­on District from the Virginia Department of Environmen­tal Quality, Commonweal­th of Virginia and the US Environmen­tal Protection Agency.

The Conservati­on District encourages pumpouts and inspection­s for everyone. Such preventati­ve maintenanc­e extends the life of a system and prevents higher costs later on if systems fail. If further repairs are indicated by the inspection, the owner is still eligible for the additional 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 Conservati­on District. Reimbursem­ent payments are made promptly once the work has been completed. The program is entirely voluntary and assistance from the Conservati­on District is free of charge.

More informatio­n on the program is available from the Conservati­on District at 540-825-8591 or 540-948-7531.

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