ADEM offering septic tank vouchers

Shelby County septic tank owners will have a chance to get financial help while improving their homes and the environment May 25.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Buxahatchee Creek Watershed Restoration Project will be giving away free $250 vouchers to the first 150 people who attend a May 25 workshop at 6 p.m. at Calera Middle School.

The workshop will last about one hour, and ADEM officials will distribute the vouchers, which homeowners can use to cover the cost of having their septic tanks inspected, pumped out or repaired.

During the workshop, ADEM representatives will explain the importance of properly maintaining private septic tanks, and how a failing septic tank can damage the county’s watersheds.

If more than 150 people attend the workshop, they will be placed on a waiting list, and could receive a voucher after the 90 day exchange deadline passes.

After homeowners receive the $250 vouchers, they will have 90 days to contact a licensed septic tank technician and schedule a cleaning. If the technician discovers the tank does not need to be pumped, the homeowner can use the voucher to perform other upgrades or maintenance.

“The cost for septic tank pumping in Central Alabama averages between $275 to $350, with higher amounts possible where tanks are exceptionally large, deep to uncover or hidden beneath decks or concrete,” said Glenn Littleton, Buxahatchee Creek Watershed Project coordinator.

Failing septic tanks can leak excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, into the fragile Buxahatchee Creek watershed, and can damage water quality and the environment around the creek, Littleton said.