Septic Repair Bill Benefit to Rural Counties

Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a bill sponsored by Sen. Arnie Roblan that will help low-income Oregonians fix failing septic systems. Senate Bill 1563 benefits the environment and helps low-income families, often in rural Oregon. The bill – which the Legislature passed in the 2016 Session – requires the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to award grants for development and administration of low-interest loan programs for repairing, upgrading or evaluating residential or small business on-site septic systems.

“This is an incredibly important bill for the rural communities in my district and for the entire state. There is significant need in coastal communities, where failing septic systems are contaminating the environment and threatening public health,” Roblan said. “Many of my colleagues across the state can share similar stories and similar challenges. Working class folks who have failing septic systems will benefit from accessing an affordable financing program to help them replace this critical infrastructure.”

Septic systems are the most common method of sewage treatment for homes and businesses that are not connected to an area-wide sewage system. More than 30 percent of Oregonians rely on septic systems to treat wastewater from their homes and businesses. Properly functioning septic systems treat sewage to minimize groundwater and surface water pollution. Septic systems which fail or malfunction can pollute Oregon’s land and waterways with raw sewage and create public health hazards.

“In many cases, homeowners tell me they don’t have a good financial option to replace their systems,” Roblan said. “Without a financing program like I’ve proposed in this bill, a new system can be a significant burden. And a failing septic system can be equally devastating to a fixed- or low-income homeowner, as to an average-income family struggling to make ends meet.”

Senator Roblan is currently working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on a series of town hall meetings with the community and local officials to discuss the septic onsite loan program. The first set of meetings are tentatively scheduled for Monday, June 27th in Lincoln and Lane Counties.