Funding is now available to help more Barry County residents finance septic system replacement projects.
Ozarks Water Watch (OWW) has received a $1 million grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to establish a grant and loan program designed to improve and protect water quality in the upper White River basin watershed by assisting homeowners with the cost of replacing failing onsite septic systems.
"Most of the eastern portion of Barry County is included," said Ronna Haxby, OWW projects manager. "Everything east of Purdy, Exeter and Seligman, excluding a small strip in the very northern most section of the county. It follows the ridge line. To be eligible you need to be in the White River watershed."
Failing septic systems are one of the major contributors of e-coli bacteria contamination in water ways. Excessive nutrient loading also leads to contamination.
"Many older metal tanks have rusted out, and many systems weren't installed correctly or located properly to begin with," said Haxby. "Frequently, homeowners are unaware of the maintenance that is required to keep their systems working properly."
It is often found that septic systems haven't been pumped out for many years if at all, said Haxby. Failure to pump systems regularly leads to clogged lateral lines and system failure.
"Because the land in the Ozarks includes thin soil, fractured and fissured limestone and dolomite bedrock, often with sinkholes, springs, channels and caves, if a septic system is not working properly, the effluent can run directly into streams, rivers and lakes, often miles away from the source," said Haxby. "This can be a primary cause of contamination of drinking water well systems."
Funding will be awarded to property owners in the form of a grant or an interest-free loan. Grants are available to fund 50 percent of the replacement costs. Grant amounts cannot exceed $10,000. Loans are available in the amount of $5,000. Loans are paid back to OWW in monthly installments at no interest.
"The money we receive back as loan payments can then be used again as a revolving fund to help other Ozarks homeowners replace their failing septic systems," said Haxby.
Special consideration will be given to low-income applicants whose income is at or below 150 percent of the 2011 poverty guidelines.
"Our goal is to replace more than 150 failing septic systems over the next four years that are currently leaking effluent into our groundwater," said Haxby. "This will have a significant and positive impact on the quality of the water that these systems flow into and can go a long way in protecting our water quality in the Ozarks."
Applications, which are available online at www.ozarkswaterwatch.org, must be fully completed. Property owners must meet all regulatory requirements, and the replacement project must be approved by OWW before installation can begin.
"This project was made possible through a partnership with Table Rock Lake Water Quality and the Missouri Department of Conservation who provided additional funds for project administration," said David Casaletto, OWW executive director.
For more information, call Haxby at 417-739-5001 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.