In an effort to rid local watersheds of hazardous bacteria, the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District is offering discounts on septic repairs and replacements to homeowners who live in parts of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Nelson and Amherst Counties.

In some cases, homeowners will be eligible for to have up to 80 percent of their costs covered.

The conservation district received a grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality three years ago to address the high levels of E. coli in the Hardware and Tye rivers. E. coli is a bacteria that can be found in human and animal feces and is harmful to humans. Livestock operations and failing septic systems in rural areas are the two main culprits of the bacteria ending up in streams, rivers, and lakes.

In an effort to clean up the waterways, the conservation district launched two programs, one for the Hardware River Watershed in Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties and one for the Tye River Watershed primarily in Nelson County and a small portion in Amherst County. It means that every homeowner who lives within those watersheds and has a septic system is eligible for financial assistance for improvements.

“Without any financial help, replacing a septic system can be pretty expensive,” Lisa Hyatt, who spearheads the project for the conservation district, said. “No matter what your income is, if you live inside the Hardware River or Tye River Watershed, we offer to pay at least half of the costs and in some cases we pay up to 80 percent of the costs. That’s a big deal, because not only is replacing a failing septic system now doable for many people, you also greatly improve the value of your home.”

The the conservation district’s goal is to ensure clean waterways in the future. Enticing residents to fix or replace their old or failing septic systems is one way to do that.

“As part of this program, we have thousands of dollars left that we would like to invest back into the community,” District Manager Ann Coates of the conservation district said. “This really is win-win. It’s good for homeowners, supports the economy and it’s good for our waterways.”

Hyatt said that the financial assistance is not offered to businesses, churches and owners of newly built homes.

The project is part of a larger effort to not only clean up local watersheds, but also to improve the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.

The district has similar programs to help local farmers with creative ideas to keep livestock, and their feces, out of local waterways.

The financial assistance offer in both watersheds ends on December 31, 2019.  Are you a homeowner and interested in repairing or replacing your septic system? Call Lisa Hyatt at the Thomas Jefferson Water and Soil Conservation District: 434-975-0224.

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