Since 2016, the Meigs County Health Department with financial assistance from the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Water Development Authority has assisted 72 homeowners with the repair or replacement of their household sewage treatment systems. The financial assistance was made possible through the state’s, Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF). According to the Ohio EPA, the fund is part of Ohio’s Clean Water, State Revolving Fund, which began in 1988, and has financed a variety of large and small projects focused on improving the state’s water quality. As of 2016, the Ohio EPA has granted over $7 billion statewide. The Meigs County Health Department has utilized over $528,000 of the WPCLF to fix failing household sewage systems throughout the county.
The Meigs County Health Department has been awarded the opportunity to use funds from the WPCLF because of the documented effects of failing household sewage treatment systems on the main watersheds of the county, which are the Leading Creek and Shade River. In a 2008 report by the the Ohio EPA and the Leading Creek Watershed Improvement Committee, failed home sewage treatment systems were identified as one of the reasons for poor water quality standards within the watershed. As part of the study, 18 different streams were sampled in the Leading Creek watershed and all were being impacted by some kind of sewage pollution. In 2015 the Ohio EPA sampled the Shade River and Little Hocking River for E. coli, which is an additional indicator of untreated wastewater. Each sample taken during the study, failed to meet the water quality standards and was likely to be from the unsanitary conditions created partly by failing home sewage treatment systems. (Ohio EPA Technical Report AMS/2015-SHADE-2). Improving water quality in the county’s watersheds enhances the numerous activities that they offer including hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and hunting. These outdoor activities are heavily relied upon for a person’s healthier lifestyle, for greater economic benefits to local businesses and for future land development and opportunities of the county.
Homeowners interested in applying for financial assistance to repair or replace their failing sewage treatment system may do so through the Meigs County Health Department. They must own and occupy the home with the failed system. Approved homeowners may qualify for one of three tiers of funding depending upon the size of their households and their household income. Homeowners may have a cost share of 0%, 15% or 50% of the total project cost. Any cost share must be paid to the contractor before the project begins. Required documentation includes proof of income for all persons residing in the household such as current bank statements, pay stubs, tax documents, social security award letters, retirement benefits or any other applicable documentation. Personal income must be verified. Homeowners must also provide a deed for the property of where the sewage system will be improved and be current on all property taxes. Any questions regarding the program may be directed to the Environmental Division of the health department at 740-992-6626 or through the website at www.meigs-health.com.
Steve Swatzel, is a registered sanitarian and director of environmental health for the Meigs County Health Department.