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Wisconsin Fund

Private Sewage System Replacement or Rehabilitation Grant Program (Subject to Sunset in 2020)

Changes to the WI Fund 2017 WI Act 59: The grant option under the Wisconsin Fund will sunset on June 30, 2021 at the end of the next bi-annual state budget. To qualify for a grant before the program ends, applications to the State Department from Oconto County citizens must be postmarked by January 31, 2020. Replacement POWTS with grants approved during the final budget cycle must be installed before the program sunsets on June 30, 2021.

Established in 1978, the Private Sewage System Replacement or Rehabilitation Grant Program provides financial incentives to protect public health, safety, and the waters of the state. Since its inception, the program has awarded over $58 million in grants for nearly 28,000 residences and business to replace or rehabilitate failing private sewage systems statewide.

As part of this program, Wisconsin counties, Indian tribes, and municipalities within Milwaukee County may apply to the Department of Commerce (Commerce), Safety and Buildings Division, for grants to assist owners of principal residence (PR) and small commercial establishments (SCE) in rehabilitating or replacing a failing private sewage system. This publication explains how the program works and who is eligible for financial assistance.

Who can apply for a Grant?

You may be eligible for a grant under this program, if ALL of the following requirements are met:

You reside in a county or governmental unit that is participating in the program.

You have received a written enforcement order/determination of failure to correct the violation from an approved county or local governmental unit representative before replacement beings.

Your PR or SCE is not located in an area served by municipal sewer.

The private sewage system serving your PR or SCE was constructed prior to July 1, 1978.

The family income of all owners of the PR is less than $45,000 or the gross revenue of the SCE is less than $362,500. (Grant awards for PRs are reduced by $.30 for each $1.00 earned over $32,000.)

Your PR or SCE is served by a category 1 or 2 failing system.

The PR or SCE is occupied 51% of the year by the owner.

The SCE is operated by the owner and has a daily wastewater flow rate less than 5,000 gallons per day.

Your application is submitted within three years from the date of the verification of failure.

When is my Private Sewage System Considered Failing?

When properly operating, a private sewage system safely treats wastewater by storing sludge and solids in the septic tank and by treating and dispersing wastewater in a soil absorption field. However, a failing system can harm the environment by discharging sewage to the surface, to a lake or stream, or to groundwater. Your private sewage system may not show any apparent signs of failure and yet be failing.

The types of failing private sewage systems are divided into three categories:

Category 1 systems are those which fail by discharging sewage to surface water, groundwater, drain tiles, bedrock or zones of seasonally saturated soils. These are considered the most serious types of failure, and are given highest priority for grant assistance.

Category 2 systems are those which fail by discharging sewage to the surface of the ground. This type of failing system is eligible for a grant but has a lower priority for funding than Category 1 systems.

Category 3 systems are those which fail by causing the backup of sewage into the structure served. This type of failing system is not eligible for grant assistance.

How Much Money Can I Receive?

Amounts may vary based on the extent of the worked needed to bring your system into compliance with the state plumbing code.

If my application is approved, when do I get the money?

Grant funds are allocated on an annual cycle. The county submits applications to the Commerce Dept in January for all eligible individuals within our jurisdiction. Commerce makes grant awards for these applications in the following fiscal year or in the fall of each year.

What do I need to do to apply?

Complete the front side of the Owner's Application for the Wisconsin Funds and returned it to the Oconto County Zoning Office with:
  • Verification of income (Federal and State income tax forms);
  • Verification of amount paid for new system (cancelled check or bill from plumber);
  • $100.00 filing fee payable to Oconto County Zoning Office.
  • Please have this information to our office no later than January 15th so that it may be submitted in time.

    You can get a copy of the Owner's Application for the Wisconsin Funds by contacting your local zoning office.

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