Passage of Capital Budget brings help to Clark and Cowlitz County families with failing septic systems

By: Craft3 Staff - Mar 07, 2018
Source: Press Release

14-county Regional Loan Program is operated by nonprofit lender Craft3

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON – Families in Clark and Cowlitz Counties can now access affordable Clean Water Loans to repair or replace failing septic systems. Repairing a septic system can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, which can be a burden on any household budget.

“Ninety-eight percent of drinking water in Clark County is from groundwater. Maintaining and repairing septic systems is critical to protecting that valuable resource. But homeowners need affordable options to make repairs and, in some cases, put in replacement systems. This program will enable more people to protect their investment in their home, while also protecting our drinking water,” said Chuck Harman, Program Manager at Clark County Public Health Department.

“Most Cowlitz County residents utilize septic systems and drinking water wells. Failed septic systems can have a direct negative impact on groundwater quality and public health,” said Season Long, Environmental Health Manager at Cowlitz County Health and Human Services Department. “Partnering with Craft3 reduces financial barriers to septic system replacement for lower-income households, allowing our residents to better- protect water quality, public health, their homes, and families.”

Clean Water Loans are made available as part of a Regional Loan Program that is funded, in part, by the Washington State Department of Ecology through the Capital Budget and operated by nonprofit lender Craft3. Members of the program now include Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom Counties. Loans are also available in Wahkiakum County.

Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 300 septic systems, worth $7.3 million, have been repaired or replaced. Those systems treat 39.9 million gallons of wastewater annually – the equivalent of sixty Olympic-sized swimming pools. Approximately 40 percent of the borrowers were low-income.

“Since launching the Clean Water Loan on a more-limited basis in 2004, Craft3 has invested more than $22 million to improve Washington public health and water quality,” said Adam Zimmerman, President and CEO of Craft3. “We’re pleased that our partnership with the State and Counties can make this resource newly available to families in Southwest Washington.”

In January 2018, the Washington state legislature passed a Capital Budget that funded Ecology’s Water Quality Combined Funding Program, which provides grants and loans to water quality projects around the state. Applications for funding are competitively ranked. The application on behalf of the Regional Loan Program that cleared the way for today’s news was submitted by Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Roughly a third of Washington households are on septic systems. Well-maintained and functioning septic systems can provide high-quality treatment to household wastewater for many years. Failing septic systems cause untreated sewage to back up in the home or enter nearby waterways. Raw sewage can pose a threat to public health.

With separate funding from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Craft3 also offers Clean Water Loans throughout the state of Oregon.

Homeowners can learn more about the program or apply at
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