Septic Grants: What Are They, How to Get Them and Where to Apply
Septic systems can be expensive to install, due in large part to the fact that the tank and drainfield are underground. However, it can also be expensive to remedy a situation in which the groundwater becomes contaminated, especially if the system needs to be dug up in order to repair the problem.
In order to protect the environment and ensure that wastewater is treated properly, installing a proper septic system from the onset is crucial. And to aid with the cost, as well as promoting septic over public sewer, a number of government, state and local agencies offer grants to help homeowners install new septic systems or repair existing ones.
Below are several grants available to homeowners:
Section 319 Grants
• The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides grants to states so the states can control non-point sources of water pollution, including septic systems that no longer are working correctly. According to the EPA, Section 319 funds may be used to construct, repair, or improve private septic systems in states “where on-site systems have been identified as a significant source of pollution.” Go to the EPA Section 319 website for more information about the application process. (http://www.epa.gov/owow_keep/NPS/cwact.html)
Rural Development Funding
• The U. S. Department of Agriculture provides funds that will cover the repair and maintenance of private septic systems. The amount of funds available, as well as the specific purposes for which grants are intended, changes from year to year. Go to the Department of Agriculture’s rural development website for information on available funds and application deadlines. (http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Home.html)
Community Development Block Grants
• Community Development Block Grants are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds are made available to states, which then allocate money to communities. According to the EPA, these funds may be used for the improvement of water and sewer facilities, which may include the construction or repair of residential septic systems. These grants usually are applied for by groups of citizens rather than an individual. Go to the Department of Housing and Urban Development website for more information. (http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD)
Applying and getting approved for septic grants takes initiative, but the result can be well worth it when you are able to improve, not only your home, but the community and the environment, as well. To start, know the difference between a loan and a grant. Where a loan needs to be repaid—usually with interest—a grant does not. Grant money is awarded for a specific need, in this case to install or improve septic systems, and progress will likely need to be monitored and recorded such as with the Grant Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS). The GRTS pulls grant information from the EPA’s grants and financial databases and allows recipients to enter detailed information on projects and activities funded under each grant awarded.
Septic grants are available through the US government, but they are also available at the state and local level, and you will need to determine if you are eligible for federal funding. Then, if funding is available to you, and you’re ready to apply, be sure to have all the information you need when filling out the application, including tax returns, pay stubs and any other paperwork that outlines a need for financial assistance.
The EPA’s website is also a wonderful resource for information on septic systems, NPS management programs and grants. Visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/owm/septic/index.cfm for more information.