Septic System Assistance Program

Wastewater treatment on Edisto Island is primarily achieved through on-site wastewater treatment systems, also known as septic systems, or septic tanks. These septic systems require routine maintenance and repairs in order to function properly.  The Edisto Island Open Land Trust recognized that some of our island’s residents may not be able to afford the costs of routine maintenance. So we applied for funding from a new grant, the Healthy Harbors fund, through the Coastal Community Foundation and we were awarded funding in 2022 and 2023. (We are currently applying to the the EPA’s Section 319 Grant Program for additional funding to extend the life of the program out to mid-2026. Final approval still pending.) We are now seeking residents who could benefit from our new Septic Assistance Program.

The program offers opportunities for free septic system inspections and pump outs, as well as the possibility of a replacement system.  Residents who could use the help simply need to complete this online or printable form, and submit it to EIOLT. Please call the land trust office at 843-869-9004 if you have questions.

Why is this important?

The waterways on and around Edisto Island are affected by pollution from a variety of sources. There are currently 25 waterways in the area that are listed as impaired for one or more pollutants, including fecal coliform bacteria (11), enterococcus bacteria (4), turbidity (10), dissolved oxygen (1), ammonia (1), and copper (1).

The primary pollutant of concern across these sub-watersheds is bacteria (measured by the levels of enterococcus and fecal coliform), that can result from both natural (e.g. wildlife) and human-influenced (e.g., pets, septic systems) sources. High levels of bacteria in local waterways have resulted in the closure of shellfish beds, which is a major impediment to local traditions and way of life, as well as an economic hardship for some.

A properly maintained and properly functioning septic systems should not transmit bacteria to receiving water bodies. DHEC recommends inspecting septic systems every 2 years  Many of the septic systems on Edisto are aging, and may be located in areas where conditions aren’t optimal for infiltration or pollution reduction.

This program is the beginning of a larger project to help clean up our waterways.  For some residents, education will be needed to ensure proper septic management. For others, particularly those with financial limitations who are unable to secure County support for septic upgrades, alternative funding sources are necessary. Through this grant from the Coastal Community Foundation (and we hope Section 319 as well), EIOLT will be offering free inspections and pump outs to residents with septic systems in high-risk zones (areas with high bacteria levels, close to waterways, in areas that regularly flood, and in areas with poor soil drainage) which will help to reduce bacteria pollution reaching local waterways.

Fill out this form and we will be in contact with you!

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