New loan program starts up
Fund will help low-income residents pay for private septic upgrades
Starting in 2020, low-income Marathon County residents will be able to tap into a $1 million fund for loans to fix failing rural septic systems.
The county program, which will replace a phased out Wisconsin Fund program, will loan money at a flat-rate 4 percent interest rate for up to 60 percent of a septic system replacement project for homeowners insufficient. There are various grant programs that will pay to repair leaking septic systems, he said.
“We have found a way to work with the people,” he said. “Nobody ever got pushed out of their home to fix their septic system.”
The county loan program will coincide with a renewed effort by the county to inspect and, if needed, upgrade private wastewater treatment systems. This program will begin in March 2020. Diamond said it is estimated that 1,250 of the county’s 7,000 private wastewater systems built prior to 1980 are failing. Failure is defi ned where sewage discharges above ground or where a holding tank is cracked and leaks. The county, he said, will inspect roughly 900 of these older wastewater systems a year, starting with those closest to surface water bodies.
Marathon County is well behind other Wisconsin counties in upgrading failing private wastewater systems. A reason for that, said Daigle, is the amount of heavy, clay soils in the county.
Daigle said the new loan program provides a way to help county residents improve county surface water and groundwater.
“This is an investment in the residents of Marathon County by the county board,” he said.
The $1 million fund comes from a county settlement with the American Transmission Co. for the Arrowhead-Weston power line.
The loan program will be administered by McDevco, which runs the county’s revolving loan fund for economic Installing new septic systems can be expensive. Dale Diamond, CPZ employee who has managed the county’s private septic system program, said a new mound system can cost $14,000. Installation of a new holding tank can cost $9,000.
Vicki Resech, interim director for McDevco, said people have three options to access funds in the county program. They can elect to make regular interest and principal payments, pay interest only or delay repayment until their home is sold.
Money repaid to the program will be used to loan out to other individuals over time, she said.
Daigle said the county will work with individuals to make a septic system upgrade affordable if program loans are who earn less than $45,000 a year.
“This is an awesome Christmas present from the county board for homeowners in Marathon County,” said Paul Daigle, director land and water programs at the Conservation, Planning and Zoning (CPZ) Department.