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January 23. 2013 10:58PM

Failing septic systems at lake homes are target of two-part state grant

MEREDITH - The state has awarded two grants to the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association to aid Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona property owners who have failing septic systems.

The grant follows the town's adoption of a new health regulation this week that addresses 26 private septic systems within 250 feet of the shoreline of Lake Waukewan deemed "very high risk" by a recent lake study. Owners of those homes have two years to have them inspected. If the systems are not failing and pass inspection, they will be given a permit for the next five years. If not, a new system will be required.

Under the rule change, enlarging a home or constructing a new building on the lake would require inspections and may force the replacement of older or inadequate septic systems, town officials said.

The measures are to counter high levels of phosphorus and stop toxic algae blooms in the Lake Waukewan, the town's drinking water supply.

The Department of Environmental Services awarded the grants to the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, or LWWA.

"The majority of Lake Winnipesaukee's watershed does not have public sewer service, and finding solutions for aging and failing septic systems is a concern for many communities," LWWA's Pat Tarpey said.

The first grant, awarded through the Source Water Protection Program, will provide cost-sharing incentives to near-shore property owners in Meredith, New Hampton and Center Harbor located on Lake Waukewan to complete evaluations and certifications of on-site subsurface wastewater disposal systems.

"LWWA believes it is important that all septic systems are professionally evaluated to ensure they are properly functioning," Tarpey said."To ensure this occurs, LWWA will solicit qualifications from New Hampshire licensed/certified septic system evaluators, and contract with the most qualified evaluator to perform the evaluations and certifications."

The cost-sharing grant program will be offered to all property owners located within 250 feet of Lake Waukewan, she said.

Under the grant, this program will reimburse the property owner half the cost of the evaluation, up to $250.

The second grant comes from the DES Watershed Assistance Program.

It provides cost-sharing grants to property owners for repair, upgrade, or replacement of their onsite wastewater disposal system.

Although all properties located within the Lake Waukewan Watershed will be eligible, priority will be given to properties with septic systems identified by LWWA as high risk located within 250 feet of Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona.

The grant will provide one-third of the cost toward an improvement to an existing on-site wastewater disposal system, up to $4,000.

With this funding, 10 on-site wastewater disposal systems will be repaired/upgraded or replaced, resulting in a reduction of nitrates, phosphorus, and pathogens to Lake Waukewan, Tarpey said.

The LWWA hopes to offer these two grant programs beginning in April or May.



dseufert@newstote.com


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