The Clean Water Loan program recently reached a milestone -- surpassing $1 million in funding to help replace or repair failing septic systems across Oregon – that is helping improve water quality across the state.
Since September 2016 when the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality first partnered with regional nonprofit loan fund Craft3 to provide property owners with Clean Water Loans, 55 loans to homeowners have been funded in 22 counties and 37 cities.
Repairing or replacing failing septic systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars and, to date, the average loan has been $19,702. The loans help homeowners pay for septic system design, permitting, installation, maintenance and safety measures. In some cases, financing is available for connection to a nearby municipal sewer system.
“These loans make a real difference to families struggling to pay for unexpected repairs to their septic systems and they help protect water quality throughout Oregon,” said DEQ Director Richard Whitman. “We're proud to reach this milestone and hope the program continues to grow.”
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. Properly functioning septic systems treat sewage to limit pollution to ground and surface water. Malfunctioning septic systems can pollute water and pose a threat to human health, fish and wildlife.
Shirley Sealy of Klamath Falls was knee-deep in medical bills when her septic system began to fail. It was then that she learned about financing through the Clean Water Loan program:
“Money was extremely tight. There was no way we could afford another payment, after we paid our bills each month,” said Sealy. “Without Craft3, we would not have been able to replace our septic system without putting a strain on other members of our family.”
Projects financed by the Clean Water Loan program are already treating more than 6.9 million gallons of wastewater annually. That's equivalent to more than 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
So far, Deschutes County, where nine loans have been distributed, has seen the highest number of loans, followed by Columbia County, with four loans. Three loans have been funded in each of the following counties: Clatsop, Coos, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah and Yamhill. Loans have also been made in: Benton (1), Clackamas (2), Douglas (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (1), Jefferson (2), Lake (2), Linn (2), Malheur (1), Tillamook (1), and Umatilla (1) Counties.
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 at http://www.oregon.gov/deq/Residential/Pages/Onsite...
Homeowners with lower incomes may be eligible for special rates and deferred payment options. To date more than 40 percent of funding has gone to households earning under 80 percent of their county's area median income. Only projects to repair or replace existing systems are eligible.
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: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/Residential/Pages/Onsite...
Jennifer Flynt, DEQ, 503-730-5924
Carl Seip, Craft3, 888-231-2170, ext. 121