Watershed group plans meeting

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Shoal Creek Watershed Improvement Group will host a free soup and chili supper at the former Pioneer Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 17.

"This is part of the septic system remediation program that the Shoal Creek Watershed Group is sponsoring," said Drew Holt, University of Missouri Extension Service environmental quality specialist. "The program targets failing septic systems located in the upper mile of Shoal Creek.

"All of the residents of Pioneer are on septic systems and those systems are located very close to the creek," said Holt.

The meeting will feature information on septic system pumping, repairs and replacement cost-share opportunities, which are available through a Clean Water Act grant that has been secured by the watershed group. According to Holt, the grant also includes monies for water monitoring.

"We plan to check the water near Pioneer before we begin working in that area," said Dr. Eugene Miekley, watershed improvement group chairman. "After we replace the failing septic systems in that area we will recheck the water to demonstrate that we can rectify the fecal ecoli from human origin that is contributing to (water contamination) problems."

The meeting will also include information on caring and maintaining septic systems and regulations for installing and repairing septic systems, said Holt.

"We will include a list of dos and don'ts for operating septic systems," said Holt. "Such as, don't put grease, paint or motor oil into the septic system and don't drive around on the lateral field."

Holt will also discuss regular pumping schedules and signs of septic system failure.

"This meeting is for anyone who wants to come and learn more about the federal and state funding available to Shoal Creek residents to cover part of the costs for pumping, repairing or replacing failing septic systems," said Holt.

Last March, the Shoal Creek Watershed Group introduced grant funding through Section 319 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act and the Southwest Missouri Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP).

Both programs will cover a portion of the costs associated with repairing or replacing problematic septic systems in the upper Shoal Creek Watershed area.

"Through education and efficient management practices, the programs will reduce local water pollution," said Holt. "We hope to help landowners replace failing septic systems and maintain working septic systems."

To qualify for the WQIP, a landowner must first contact a watershed group representative who will visit the septic system site prior to any maintenance work. The landowner is then responsible for hiring a qualified septic tank company to pump the tank. Minor repairs can be conducted during this initial servicing.

After the septic system is pumped, the landowner must submit a paid service invoice to the watershed group. The landowner will be reimbursed for 90 percent of the maintenance costs.

If the septic system needs major repairs, a watershed representative will visit the property to review the program's repair and replacement procedures. The grant will pay for a soil evaluation, which will include a recommendation for repairs or replacement of the system.

The property owner must obtain two bids from licensed septic system installers, which will be reviewed and approved by the watershed group. The property owner must also obtain all required permits for the work.

After the septic system has been properly installed the installer will bill the watershed group for 90 percent of the total costs. The property owner will be responsible for the remaining 10 percent of the costs and the permit fees.

Shoal Creek Watershed landowners who live south of Woodward Creek will be eligible for a similar program through Section 319 of the EPA Clean Water Act. This grant will require the property owner to pay 25 percent of the total repair or replacement costs.

According to Miekley, the program has allowed the watershed group to pump over 100 septic systems and replace another half dozen systems.

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