Failing septic systems once posed a great threat to water quality in Pierce County, but a variety of affordable loans and grants are turning that tide. In just the last few years, these programs have funneled more than $1.5 million toward septic maintenance, protecting ground, surface and drinking water from contamination and keeping local shellfish and beaches safe to enjoy.
"Septic system maintenance is expensive, but poor regional water quality is more expensive -- with serious public health and financial impacts for everyone in Pierce County. That's why the Health Department offers several innovative financing programs," said Gary Porter, program manager.
Since 2007, the Septic Repair Grant and Loan Project has financed the repair of 52 failing septic systems in Pierce County. The state Department of Ecology provided funding of more than $1 million, with Pierce County Surface Water Management as the lead agency, and the Health Department and Pierce County Community Connections as partnering agencies.
Also, Clean Water Loans from Craft3 have distributed $494,609 in Pierce County since the Health Department joined that program in 2014. Starting in 2003, Craft3 has helped repair or replace 535 failing Pacific Northwest septic systems through more than $12 million in Clean Water Loans.
One geographical area of special concern is the Key Peninsula Marine Recovery Area. All residences and businesses there have onsite septic service, making proper septic maintenance and repair critical in maintaining water quality and healthy shellfish beaches. Fifteen peninsula residents have received Septic Repair Grant and Loan Project financing totaling $362,800.