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Commissioners looking for funding to repair septic systems

November 19, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - Columbiana County commissioners are seeking another round of state funding that will result in the repair of 15 more residential septic systems.

Commissioners voted last week to the give county Health Commissioner Wes Vins authorization to apply for $154,000 in grant money through the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund to repair failing residential septic systems.

Vins said they anticipate being able to repair up to 15 septic systems in 2013 with the money, which will be used to cover 85 percent of the cost, with the property owner required to pay the rest. Households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $46,100 in wages for a family of four) are eligible to apply.

He said the health department will work from a list of known malfunctioning septic systems and ask those property owners if they are interested in applying, which would make sense for them to do so rather than risk being cited.

"We're not solving the problem if we prosecute anyone, but this process helps solve the problem," Vins said.

The program was first begun in 2009, when commissioners received $236,000 in federal stimulus money to repair failing septic systems. The money was used by the health department to repair 31 systems. Last year, the county applied for and received $160,000 through the state to repair another 17 septic systems, all but two of which are completed.

The health department contracts with local septic installers to make the repairs.

The county is expected to be only one of 18 applicants to receive state funding for next year, "so we're very pleased with that," Vins said.

As in the past, the Community Action Agency will determine income eligibility of applicants, a service it provides to the health department for free.

"Not only does this benefit the resident but all of those residents who live downstream or downwind," Vins said of the program.

Vins said those with malfunctioning septic systems and who qualify may want to apply because the state is again considering changing the rules for new and replacement septic systems, which could drive up costs significantly. A similar plan about five years ago was scaled back because of opposition from state and local officials, and Vins said they are lobbying against any draconian changes again this time.




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