DEQ, Craft3 mark year anniversary of clean water loan program

By: DEQ Staff - Sep 13, 2017
Source: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Nearly $600,000 invested for clean water improvements across Oregon
In the last year, 30 Oregon families received loans totaling nearly $600,000 to help replace or repair failing septic systems under a program that marks its first year on Friday.

In September 2016, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality partnered with regional nonprofit Craft3 to provide homeowners and small businesses with Clean Water Loans.

Repairing or replacing failing septic systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The loans help pay for costs associated with septic system design, permitting, installation, maintenance and safety measures. 

Properly functioning septic systems treat sewage to limit pollution to ground and surface water. Malfunctioning septic systems can pollute ground and surface water and pose a threat to human health, fish and wildlife. 

“More than 30 percent of Oregonians rely on septic systems for sewage treatment, and about a tenth of these systems are at risk of failure each year,” DEQ Director Richard Whitman said. “Many simply don't have the resources to make necessary repairs before the systems fail, leading both to threats to public health and the environment. By providing low-cost loans to needy families and businesses, Craft3 and DEQ are helping protect Oregonians' health and the quality of our rivers and streams.”

Over the past year, loans have been awarded in 14 Oregon counties: Clatsop (three loans), Columbia (three), Coos (two), Deschutes (seven), Douglas, Jefferson, Josephine, Lane (three), Lincoln (three), Linn, Marion (two), Multnomah, Tillamook and Yamhill. Approximately 40 percent of borrowers are low-income. Individual loans ranged from about $6,000 to more than $40,000. 

“Our property is located right above a river. If anyone is concerned about clean water, it is our family. This program with DEQ and Craft3 is phenomenal for helping folks take care of complex septic issues. It was a lifesaver,” said DeAnne Mathis, who used a Clean Water Loan to repair a failing septic system.

DeAnne and her husband Terry have lived in Oregon on and off for 40 years, and discovered their septic system was failing earlier this year. Repairs were complicated by the location of their home above a river, as well as limited site access. Their Clean Water Loan project is scheduled for construction in late September.

The partnership between DEQ and Craft3 is also supported by Meyer Memorial Trust, Laird Norton Family Foundation, and the Titcomb Foundation. 

More information on the loan program is online at and 

Homeowners with lower incomes may be eligible for special rates and deferred payment options.

The year anniversary of the loan program falls just before SepticSmart Week 2017 set for Sept. 18-22. SepticSmart Week encourages homeowners and communities to properly care for and maintain their septic systems. Learn more at 

DEQ and Craft3 plan to share educational information for homeowners and businesses with septic systems throughout SepticSmart Week on Facebook (@oregondeq, @Craft3Org) and Twitter (@OregonDEQ, @Craft3Org).

About DEQ: DEQ regulates septic system siting, design, installation and maintenance in Oregon. DEQ administers onsite septic system programs in 10 counties and oversees local administration by local agencies in the other 26 counties. More information: 

About Craft3: Craft3 is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution providing loans that strengthen businesses, families and the environment throughout Oregon and Washington. Since inception in 1994, Craft3 has invested more than $400 million in people and businesses from offices in Port Angeles, Seattle, Spokane and Walla Walla, Washington, and Astoria, Bend and Portland, Oregon. Craft3 expects to open a new office in Klamath Falls, Oregon in late 2017.

Katherine Benenati, DEQ, 541-687-7997,
Carl Seip, Craft3, 888-231-2170, ext. 121,