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Septic system loans OK’d by County Board

Washington County Board approved a new measure that will allow homeowners to borrow money to fix failing septic systems.

The low interest loan program was given final approval Feb. 4 and may save more than 17,000 septic systems and 50,000 residents from having to pay out of pocket for the large expense.

Washington County began looking into failing septic system funding programs last year. Public health staff say the cost to fix a faulty system can go up to $20,000.

Noncompliant septic systems put groundwater at risk of contamination, said Stephanie Souter of the county’s public health and environment, and the new program aims to replace numerous systems threatening groundwater resources.

The program is a new partnership between Washington County and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The county will dispense the loans funded by $10 million in revolving federal and state funds from the Department of Agriculture.

County residents will pay back the loan as a special assessment on the property over a 10-year period with a 3 percent interest rate.

“There is potential to process dozens and dozens of these loans once the program is up and running,” Souter said.

Private septic systems are widely used in Washington County with 80 percent served by this type of waste treatment.

Proper treatment of wastewater reduces health risks and the threat of contamination to surface and groundwater. In rural areas, including large parts of Woodbury and Cottage Grove, private septic systems are commonly used to treat waste.

The county’s contribution to the program comes in the form of $25,000 set aside in reserves as a way to guarantee getting funds from the Department of Agriculture.

County Commissioner Gary Kriesel joined the rest of the board in unanimously approving the program and said “the $25,000 is a very low cost commitment to getting a large amount of money from the state.”

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.