Medina County officials say they hope to continue a program that assists low-income families in need of new septic tanks.
Commissioners approved a grant application Tuesday that could bring $300,000 to the program next year — enough to replace or repair 20 to 25 units.
The environmental heath director at the Medina County Health Department, Colin Johnson, said the purpose of the program is two-fold. “It’s to help people to replace or repair failing septic systems that wouldn’t necessarily have the means to do that and to clean up the waters of the state,” he said.
Leaking septic tanks are a contributor to algal blooms sometimes seen in local bodies of water such as Lake Erie, Johnson said. During algal blooms, the algae population rapidly increases, occasionally resulting in the release of toxins, which can pose a risk to other aquatic life and humans.
If the grant application to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is approved for 2017, residents will be able to apply for a septic tank repair or replacement if the system is failing. Johnson said residents can receive partial or full funding for the project depending on the household’s income.
He said the poverty guidelines, which determine eligibility, won’t be released until later this year.
The county Health Department and sanitary engineer have run the program several times, including this year. In 2016, Johnson said the county received about $300,000 and plans to replace or repair 30 to 35 septic tanks by the end of the year.
This year, the county did not learn about its award until late April or early May. Officials said they expect to hear results of their application next spring.
Though the program is application-based, Johnson said the department often finds potential candidates through reports of ongoing problems.
He added outreach also is important, because sometimes his office is not aware of issues.
Medina County contains between 20,000 and 23,000 septic systems, Johnson estimated.
Sometimes people knew their system had issues, he said, “but they didn’t want to say anything because they didn’t have the money.”
Contact reporter Elizabeth Dobbins at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.