By Wayne Gates
The Brown County Health Department has been awarded a $168,000 grant to help residents repair and replace failing home sewage treatment systems.
The money is from the Ohio EPA through the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) and is for low to moderate income homeowners.
Depending on the household income and the number of residents, homeowners may qualify for 50 to 100 percent of the total costs for sewage system repair or replacement.
According to information from the Ohio EPA, “It is estimated that about 31 percent of all household sewage treatment systems throughout Ohio are experiencing some degree of failure due to poor maintenance or age. When failing systems discharge untreated sewage, potential exposure to harmful bacteria and pathogens can cause public health concerns and threaten the environment.”
Brown County Environmental Health Director Stephen Dick, Jr. said that the department is already working on getting help to local residents.
“We spend the money until it’s gone. Right now we have six applicants that are at different points of the process,” he said.
Dick added that preventing the failure of home septic systems is important for public health.
“Raw sewage can get into streams and waterways. It can have harmful viruses or bacteria in it as well as harmful chemicals,” he said.
As for the signs of a system that might be failing, Dick said that there are warning signs to look for.
“A lot of times they will notice the plumbing starts to back up in the home. They will notice that it’s worse during the wintertime or when there is a lot rain. Or they will see signs of failure out in the yard with wet spots or the odor of raw sewage,” he said.
Dick said that approximately 25 to 30 Brown County residents have been helped by the program in the last fice years with approximately $600,000 in grant money.
He added that the health department will notify the public if and when grant money for this purpose is available in the future.
Residents who have questions or wish to apply for grant funds can call the Brown County Health Department at (937) 378-3886.