Editor’s note: This story originally stated that attendees were to attend a virtual workshop. Participants are encouraged to attend but may participate if they do not.
Homeowners in Southeast Monroe County with septic tank issues may be eligible for $100 to $150 in assistance under a cost-sharing program through Lake Monroe Community Action Initiative. This is a new project proposed by Friends of Lake Monroe.
Failing septic systems on land that drain into Lake Monroe are a primary source of pollution affecting drinking water in Bloomington and other communities.
About 20% of Lake Monroe’s watershed is in Monroe County, according to Maggie Sullivan, watershed coordinator for Friends of Lake Monroe.
“That’s almost a quarter of the watershed,” Sullivan said, adding that there are about 3,000 homes with septic systems in the county. “It’s really hard to know how many of these systems are working properly.”
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County health officials know of about 20 septic systems in Monroe County that are failing, Sullivan said. But often it’s only after a catastrophic failure occurs that there is a complaint. Sullivan suspects there are other septic tanks that aren’t working properly, citing a person she spoke with recently who didn’t realize septic tanks needed to be pumped out at least every three years.
Failing septic systems leak nutrients and E. coli into nearby waterways. In southeast Monroe County, these pollutants end up in Lake Monroe.
Funding, Education for Monroe County Residents
Anyone interested in applying for funding can attend a virtual workshop that the Friends of Lake Monroe and the Monroe County Health Department will lead from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, on the maintenance of septic tanks. People who live in the Lake Monroe watershed can apply for the cost-sharing program. If accepted, homeowners will be reimbursed half of the cost of pumping their septic tank or/or installing a septic tank riser, with an upward limit of $100 for one service and $150 for both.
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The cost-sharing program will be available from April 1 through July 31 or until program funds are exhausted. Applications are available online at www.friendsoflakemonroe.org/septic or by calling 812-558-0217.
Anyone interested should apply soon, Sullivan said, adding that about half of the vouchers have already been distributed.
To look forward
While the community action initiative – funded by grants from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and the Monroe County Stormwater Board — is restricted to Monroe County residents, Sullivan hopes it will be expanded to Brown and Jackson counties.
“Part of our thinking is that if we have a successful program in Monroe County, it will be easier to go to other funding agencies and ask for money to expand,” Sullivan said.
Contact Carol Kugler at [email protected], 812-331-4359 or @ckugler on Twitter.