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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Debra Baker, Environmental Health Program Assistant, (360) 867-2628, bakerd@co.thurston.wa.us
Art Starry, Environmental Health Division Director, (360) 867-2587, starrya@co.thurston.wa.us

Loans available for affordable septic repairs in Thurston County
Program that helps homeowners and the environment expands

OLYMPIA - Septic system repair or replacement can be a financial burden for homeowners. The Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department is now offering affordable Clean Water Loans to Thurston County residents and others across the Puget Sound region.

"Replacing a failing septic system is a difficult financial burden for homeowners," said Art Starry, Thurston County Environmental Health Division Director. "For many years Thurston County ran a successful low interest septic system repair loan and grant program. We're excited to join this regional program because it will make more flexible financial packages available to applicants. This program helps make septic system repairs and replacement possible, while easing the cost to homeowners and protecting our environment."

The Clean Water Loans will allow homeowners to pay for:
  • Septic system design
  • Relevant permits
  • Installation of the new septic system
  • Ongoing maintenance
  • Essential safety measures, such as those to prevent children from falling into septic tanks
The Clean Water Loan Program partnership now includes Thurston County and nine other counties (Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Snohomish, and Whatcom). Similar loans are also available for property owners in Wahkiakum and Jefferson Counties outside of the partnership. Thurston County Public Health & Social Services partnered with other entities around Western Washington to receive a more than $9 million award from the State Department of Ecology (in partnership with the State Department of Health) for the program. Craft3, a non-profit, non-bank community development financial institution, is the lending partner in the program.

"This new loan program exemplifies partnerships at their best. It responsibly invests in clean water infrastructure, supports Puget Sound recovery, builds family resilience in rural areas, and helps ensure access to clean water that is essential to our communities," said Polly Zehm, Deputy Director of Washington State Department of Ecology. "I'm thrilled to see counties, the state, and Craft3 come together to make a measurable impact on our region's water quality."

The partnership expands a more-limited Craft3 septic loan program that, since 2003, has seen
  • Widespread use - 634 septic systems repaired or replaced, worth $13.2 million
  • Wastewater treatment - those systems treat 79.5 million gallons of wastewater annually
  • Accessibility - over 50 percent of loans have gone to low-income households or those with credit challenges
"Since 2003, Craft3 has lent money to homeowners in crisis who needed help to replace their failing septic system," said Adam Zimmerman, President & CEO of Craft3. "Craft3 has a triple-bottom-line mission to strengthen the region's economy, environment, and families - so expanding our Clean Water Loan to homeowners across Western Washington is a perfect fit for us."

About Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department: The mission of the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department is to promote healthful social, economic and environmental conditions for all residents. As a part of our mission, the department is working to update the septic system management plan. The plan puts systems in place to help septic system owners protect their investment and extend the life of their septic system while protecting the public health. Learn more about the plan at: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehomp/.

About Craft3: Craft3 is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) specializing in loans that strengthen the economy, families and environment. It lends to businesses and nonprofits throughout Oregon and Washington. In many counties, Craft3 offers affordable loans to homeowners for septic system repair or energy-efficiency upgrades. Since inception in 1994, Craft3 has invested more than $399 million in over 4,800 people and businesses from offices in Ilwaco, Seattle, Spokane and Port Angeles, Washington and in Bend, Astoria and Portland, Oregon. To learn more, visit www.Craft3.org.

About Washington State Department of Ecology: Ecology's mission is to protect, preserve and enhance Washington's land, air and water for current and future generations. Ecology's Water Quality Program offers grants and loans for a wide range of projects that improve and protect water quality throughout the state. More information on these programs can be found at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/funding/funding.html.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3