Until the end of September, all residents of the Upper Hazel River watershed are eligible to be reimbursed for between 50 and 80 percent of the expense of pumping, maintaining, repairing and replacing on-lot septic systems.

The Upper Hazel River watershed includes the parts of Rappahannock County that drain to either the Rush, Covington, Thornton, Hazel or Hughes Rivers, the western flank of Culpeper County along the Hazel River upstream of the confluence of the Hazel and Thornton Rivers, and the very northern section of Madison County that drains to the Hughes River through Popham Run.

The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) grant program continues its funding to help reduce bacteria pollution in local streams. The grants are focused on reducing existing and potential impacts on local ground- and surface-water quality. 

Levels of E. Coli bacteria in some local streams have long been identified as higher than expected by state water quality standards. Maintaining septic systems benefits property owners, giving them the assurance that their system is up to standards and functioning properly — it’s a win-win for both water quality and property value. 

Program participants are eligible for several different payments depending on the actual needs of their systems. Reimbursements typically cover 50 percent of costs but can go as high as 80 percent based on demonstrated need.

Applications are required and need to be approved prior to the work being done or funding can be declined. Free assistance with initial assessments of individual system needs is available from the District. Reimbursement payments are made promptly once the work has been completed. The program is entirely voluntary and assistance from the District is free of charge.

This program, which has been operational for 14 years, is expected to end on September 30, 2021. There will be a follow-up grant, but it will be limited in geographical scope and not available to much of the Upper Hazel watershed. Take advantage of the program while it exists! Now is a good time to engage.

For more information on the program, call the CWSCD at (540) 825-8591 or (540) 948-5681. Funding for these projects has been secured by the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  

The writer is the education and information officer for the Culpeper Water and Soil Conservation District.


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