Oregon DEQ launches septic system repair, replacement financial aid program for wildfire victims

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality created the Onsite Septic Financial Aid Program to support Oregon’s 2020 wildfire recovery efforts and address other statewide priorities. DEQ will provide up to $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to repair, replace or upgrade sewer systems.

Using some of these funds, Craft3, a community lender, launched a new program on July 1 offering grant and loan packages to victims of these historic fires. DEQ will provide additional grants to support financial assistance programs run by local authorities and other qualifying organizations with a focus on wildfire recovery.

ARPA funds are intended to provide economic assistance to households and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly low-income communities and households that have been experiencing the most difficulty. During the 2021 session, the Oregon Legislature allocated DEQ the $15 million in ARPA funds.

“This one-time funding is a real game changer in helping rural property owners with the cost of repairing or replacing septic systems,” said Deb Milanese, on-site program manager for DEQ. “The long-term environmental, public health and economic benefits of installing new wastewater systems and technologies are significant.”

DEQ has awarded Craft3 $2.1 million to help homeowners affected by the 2020 wildfires. Since July 1, property owners affected by fires have been encouraged to apply for grants and loans to repair or replace their on-site sewage system. Eligible borrowers are offered grant funding on a tiered basis based on annual household income. Visit the Craft3 website for more information.

On June 15, DEQ opened a competitive call for grant applications to further support the replacement and repair of septic systems damaged by the 2020 wildfires. Government agencies, tribes and community development financial institutions are eligible to apply for this funding to support their on-site septic financial assistance programs. These grant programs provide grants or loans for ongoing projects and, in some cases, may allow for reimbursement of previous permitting, consulting and construction costs. DEQ is expected to announce the new funding opportunities in September.

If funds are available, DEQ will publish a second call for applications in autumn. This round will include any unmet firefighting needs and other statewide priorities.

For more information on the Onsite Septic Financial Aid program, visit ordeq.org/onsiteARPAfunds.

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