Oregon An affordable loan program is again available for homeowners and small businesses in Oregon to repair or replace failing septic systems. Fixing or replacing failing septic systems benefits Oregonians by protecting public health and addressing threats to water quality, according to a press release.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and regional nonprofit lender Craft3 are teaming up to make Craft3’s Clean Water Loans available throughout the state. The Oregon Legislature approved $2 million for the program in the last session and Craft3 began accepting loan applications on Nov. 1.

“By supporting those struggling to repair failing septic systems, we can not only prevent damage to homes and property but also improve public health outcomes for all Oregonians,” said Oregon Rep. Ken Helm.

The affordable loan program provides flexible financing for homeowners to repair or replace their failing septic systems. The program is also available to many small businesses that use septic systems, such as restaurants, convenience stores, and small manufactured home or RV parks.

Properly functioning septic systems treat sewage to minimize groundwater and surface water pollution. A malfunctioning system can cause sewage to surface onto the ground or spill into waterways creating a health hazard and harming natural resources.

These affordable loans not only cover all eligible costs for permitting, design and installation, but they also provide for ongoing maintenance when needed. The loans have variable low rates based on the income of the borrowers and are designed to be accessible to borrowers who may not have perfect credit.

The Oregon Legislature established the program in 2016 (ORS 454.770), and DEQ entered a partnership with Craft3 to administer these loans from 2016-2020. Funding for this popular program was exhausted in 2020 and Craft3 stopped taking applications for loans in Oregon in June 2020. The new funding will restart the program this month.

Before the program’s pause in Oregon, Craft3 provided more than $3.6 million in loans to 187 Oregon residents and small businesses to improve or install septic systems with previous funding from the legislature. Loan recipients were in 92 cities and 28 out of Oregon’s 36 counties. Of the total loans closed, 32% of households were low income or 80% of Area Median Income.

Oregon residents interested in learning more about the program and applying can do so by visiting Craft3.org/CleanWaterOre .