Regional septic system program gaining momentum

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Oct 03, 2012 - 11:56 AM

A regional program to replace failing septic systems is gaining momentum, said Lewis Lawrence, executive director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission.

Lawrence presented a report about the regional on-site wastewater treatment and disposal funding program to the commission during its meeting Sept. 26 at its headquarters in Saluda. The program has gained impetus in recent months, Lawrence said, thanks to a recent push by health department officials to enforce measures against failing septic systems.

Eighty-three failing on-site septic systems have been replaced since the program began in 1997, Lawrence said, with 10 of those replacements taking place during the past six months. In the first years of the program there was little interest, because only a loan was available, he said, but now the program has evolved into a combination of loans and grants that can help cover costs of septic system replacement.

In certain cases, a homeowner might replace a failed septic system with a comparable unit, Lawrence said, but more often a more modern model would be installed. Some alternative systems, which might include peat moss or other medium, are often included in the unit replacement.

The program is important, Lawrence said, because septic systems have a direct impact on the water quality of this region. A failed system, he said, can affect the nearby water supply, as well as cause harm to other waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.