Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide funding assistance for septic tank conversion projects across the country.
Septic tank systems provide wastewater treatment for homeowners across the country. But, as documented by the Environmental Protection Agency, individual septic systems can often negatively impact drinking water wells and surface water bodies.
Although a number of parasitic diseases and increased levels of nitrogens can flow into nearby lakes and streams from such systems, they are not generally regulated by the federal Clean Water Act.
A majority of the estimated 21 million household septic systems in the U.S. are mostly located in rural or suburban areas not served by a centralized public sewer system.
The proposed Local Water Protection Act, which has been unanimously approved by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, will provide funding for the upgrading of those systems.
Introduced by Minnesota Representative Angie Craig and Brian Mast of Florida, the legislation more generally authorizes funding for what is known as “nonpoint source management grants.”
Nonpoint source water pollution includes septic system seepage, the runoff from farms due to sediments and fertilizers from fields, toxins from abandoned mines, and the oils and heavy metals from roads.
All of these ingredients can seep into lakes, rivers and other bodies of water.
As introduced, the legislation will more than double federal support for state-run nonpoint pollution management programs from the current $70 million a year to $200 million a year every year between 2020 and 2014.
The legislation is now on its way to the full House.
By Garry Boulard
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