ILWACO, Wash. - With funds from the Puget Sound Action Team, Pacific County will be able to help another 20 to 30 families repair or replace their failing septic systems in 2005, in a partnership with ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific.

The funds are derived from the state's sale of oysters from Willapa Bay. The total available to the septic program is about $130,000.

According to Sonya Lynn of ShoreBank Enterprise, "So far we have been able to help nine families, many of whom do not have to make any payments and all of whom have increased the value of their home by having a working septic system."

She added that, "The new resources will make it possible to help more families who live close to the waters which support our local oyster industry."

Current eligibility is limited to sites very close to Willapa Bay. "If you are worried about your system and you can see the Bay, call us," Lynn said.

The Septic Loan Program offers low interest loans to upgrade or replace an existing septic system. Small grants cover loan fees and permit costs. For lower income households, actual loan payments are put on hold.

Pat Hamilton, Pacific County commissioner, praised the effort, saying, "It is designed to protect peoples' home values and our local water quality at the same time. Access to the program is very broad thanks to the subsidies we can make available."

John Berdes, president of ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific, credited the oyster growers of Willapa Bay for making the loan program possible.

"It's the growers who are buying the state's oysters and it's the growers that are helping bring the revenues of those sales back home to Willapa, to help people locally."

For more information on the Septic Loan Program, log on to (www.sbpac.com) or call Lynn at (360) 642-4265, ext. 139.

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