SCWIG receives additional grant funding for septic improvements

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Shoal Creek Watershed Improvement Group (SCWIG) has been awarded a $224,600 grant to identify and repair on-site wastewater systems. The grant award was announced by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Dec. 1.

In March of 2006, SWIG was awarded 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 covered portions of the costs associated with repairing or replacing problematic septic systems in the Shoal Creek Watershed area.

The newly awarded grant funds will help the SCWIG continue to assist property owners in repairing and replacing failing septic systems.

"The objective for this grant is the same," said Drew Holt, University of Missouri Extension Service environmental quality specialist. "It is to address the human fecal coliform contribution to the creek.

"The previous cost share grant provided 90 percent of the funding to replace a septic system," said Holt. "The new grant will provide 75 percent of the cost share funds."

SCWIG applied for the DNR grant in July of 2007. SCWIG representatives traveled to Jefferson City to talk about the water improvement project and lobby for the additional funding that was awarded last week, said Holt.

"The new grant will benefit property owners who live within one-half mile of upper Shoal Creek and its tributaries," said Holt. "It also includes property that is located within one-half mile of springs and sinkholes that are fed by Shoal Creek."

The newly awarded grant funds will be used to assist property owners with on-site system clean-outs, repairs and replacements.

"We will be required to complete a watershed action plan before spending any of the grant money," said Holt. "The plan must include nine essential EPA elements and determine a system for monitoring that will be used to measure our progress toward reducing the human fecal coliform."

In order to qualify for the cost share grant funds, property owners must first contact a SCWIG 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, such as the replacement of a baffle, can be conducted during the initial servicing.

After the septic system is pumped, the landowner must submit a paid service invoice to the SCWIG. The landowner will be reimbursed for 50 percent of the maintenance costs.

If the septic system needs major repairs, a SCWIG representative will visit the landowner's property to review the program's repair and replacement procedures.

When the septic system has been property installed, the installer will bill SCWIG for 75 percent of the total costs. The landowner will only be responsible for 25 percent of the costs and any required health department permit fees.

The DNR grant will provide funding for the repair or replacement of around 30 failing septic systems and pumping services for around 40 systems. Participating homeowners will be required to sign a maintenance agreement after work has been completed.

Property owners will also have the option of testing their private drinking water well for bacterial contamination.

SCWIG will provide a grant match contribution of $149,741, which will bring the total project revenues to $374,341. The funds will support the project through Dec. 31, 2012.

For more information on the cost-share grant and septic improvement project, call Holt at 417-838-1939. Individuals can also contact board member Dr. Eugene Miekley at 417-652-7214.

"We don't know who will receive septic system improvement services, but the funding will be used on a first-come, first-serve basis," said Holt. "We will be having some meetings later on to talk to members of the community about the project."

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