The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has launched the Onsite Septic Financial Aid Program to assist with Oregon’s 2020 wildfire recovery efforts and address other statewide priorities. DEQ will provide up to $15 million in Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to repair, replace, or upgrade septic systems. With some of this funding, Craft3, a community lender, launched a new program on July 1, 2022, that offers grant and loan packages for victims of these historic fires. DEQ will provide additional grants to support financial aid programs run by local agencies and other eligible organizations, with a priority on wildfire recovery.
ARPA funds are intended to provide economic assistance to households and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for low-income communities and households that experienced the greatest hardship. During the 2021 session, the Oregon Legislature allocated the $15 million in ARPA funds to DEQ. “This one-time funding is a real game changer to assist rural property owners with the cost of repairing or replacing septic systems,” said Deb Mailander, onsite program manager for DEQ. “The long-term environmental, public health, and economic benefits from installing new septic systems and technologies is significant.”
DEQ has awarded $2.1 million to Craft3 to help homeowners impacted by the 2020 wildfires. Since July 1, fire-impacted property owners have been encouraged to apply for grants and loans to repair or replace their onsite septic system. Eligible borrowers will be offered grant resources on a sliding scale based on annual household income. For more information visit the Craft3 webpage. On June 15, DEQ opened a competitive call for grant proposals to further assist with replacing and repairing septic systems damaged by the 2020 wildfires.
Public agencies, tribes, and community development financial institutions are eligible to apply for this funding to support their onsite septic financial aid programs. These financial aid programs will provide grants or loans for current projects, and in some cases may allow for reimbursement of past permitting, consulting, and construction costs. DEQ expects to announce the new financial aid opportunities in September 2022. If funds are available, DEQ will put out a second-round call for proposals in fall 2022. This round will include any unmet fire recovery needs and other statewide priorities. For more information on the Onsite Septic Financial Aid program see ordeq.org/onsiteARPAfunds.