CAVE SPRINGS – Landowners in the Illinois River Watershed are now eligible for assistance with the cost of repairing or replacing faulty septic tanks, according to a press release from the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP).
The program is administered by IRWP, the press release said. Program funding comes from a combination of loans provided by the Clean Water Revolving Loan Funds and grants provided by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Department.
There is no income limit and anyone with a flawed system can apply. However, lower income levels receive a higher percentage of grants compared to loan dollars to fund the repair or replacement of the system, the press release said.
Ozark Water Watch, a similar nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and improving the water quality of the Upper White River Basin, will oversee similar landowners in the Beaver Reservoir Watershed. Applications for these two organizations opened in early March, the press release said.
“This new program in Arkansas will improve water quality by addressing bacterial degradation and nutrient levels in the watershed,” said Nicole Hardiman, executive director of IRWP. “We are very excited to be part of this innovative program that will improve water quality and help homeowners who need technical and financial assistance.”
Malfunctioning sewage systems can also be a public health problem when sewage rises to ground level. or leaks into the subterranean water flow that can infiltrate well water or emerge as a source throughout northwest Arkansas, the press release said.
Program manager Matt Taylor said a major obstacle to IRWP is the stigma that is often associated with system failure.
“An important message to communicate is that bugs must be reported so that they can be corrected for the benefit of all, health and the environment, especially now that an aid program is available,” said Taylor.
IRWP will also work closely with local septic tank developers and installers to identify additional septic tank problems in the watershed. Septic tank professionals are encouraged to contact IRWP for additional program information as well as materials that can be shared with qualified customers.
“IRWP’s long-term interest is to remove power ranges from the state’s list of impairments and meet the Oklahoma standard for phosphorus at the state line,” Hardiman said. “This program is one of the many tools in the toolbox that makes this possible.”
Further information and the application process can be found at irwp.org/septic. Taylor can be reached by email at [email protected]