By Mike Rigdon – February 2022
Homeowners within 5 impaired sub-watersheds in Lake Anna region (excluding the purple area for Spotsylvania shown in Figure 1 below) are eligible for cost-sharing help with septic issues. E-coli bacteria in some local streams have long been identified as being higher than specified by state water quality standards. Other pollutants are also involved: particularly nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen that fuel the growth of unwanted algae.
The state has funded grants under the Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program for projects focused on reducing any existing or potential impacts on local ground and surface water quality. More recently additional funding has become available from the American Rescue Plan Act to help low-income owners repair or replace well and septic systems. A benefit to the property owner is the assurance that their system meets state standards and is functioning properly. It is a win-win for both water quality and property values.
Two of our local Soil & Water Conservation Districts have grants from DEQ’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program to address failing or non-existent septic systems. At the state level these programs have been in place for several years. In addition to promoting residential best practices to support water quality, they include inspection and financial assistance for septic system repairs and upgrades. Funding for septic system work is provided by the Commonwealth to implement the Upper York Watershed TMDLplan (Total Maximum Daily Load of pollutant allowed) to reduce water pollution in the Upper York River watershed. More recently additional funding has become available from the American Rescue Plan Act to help low-income residents repair or replace well and septic systems. A benefit to the property owner is the assurance that their system meets state standards and is functioning properly. It is a win-win for both water quality and property values.
Financial assistance for septic system pump outs and repairs is available in the following Orange County watersheds: Mountain Run (Gordonsville); Pamunkey Creek; Terry’s Run and Beaver Creek. This is nearly all of the section of Orange County south of Route 20 and east of US 15. A companion program administered by the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District (TJSWCD) is available for the Goldmine Creek watershed in Louisa County. Please note that the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) has been at this for several years in the Lake Anna watershed with numerous completed and ongoing efforts. TJSWCD’s effort on Goldmine Creek in the Lake Anna watershed has been underway for just one year. So far they have approved three system replacements and funded two pump outs.
Figure 1. Color coded map of the upper Lake Anna Watershed. Areas covered by projects administered by the CSWCD for Orange County and the TJSWCD for Louisa County are shown with impaired portions of the streams on the basis of e-coli colored red.
Program participants are eligible for several different payment amounts depending on the needs of their system as determined by an initial inspection. Reimbursement payments are typically fifty percent for anyone but can go as high as eighty percent for individuals that qualify for low-income status.
Payments to property owners at the 50% cost share level are $2000 maximum towards a pump out and system inspection; $2,500 maximum towards repair; $4,000 maximum towards a conventional system or $6,000 if a pump is required to move the liquids to the drain field; and $12,000 maximum towards an alternative engineered system (maximum payments under low- income situations at the 80% cost share level are $3,200 maximum towards a pump out and full system inspection; $4000 maximum towards a repair; $6,400 maximum towards a conventional system or $9,600 if a pump is required to move the liquids to the drain field; and $19,200 maximum towards an alternative engineered system).