Puget Sound Innovation Stories

Regional On-site Sewage System Loan Program

Helping homeowners repair or replace failing on-site sewage systems

The Regional On-site Sewage System Loan Program (RLP) in Washington State consolidates multiple county-level on-site sewage system loan programs into a single public-private partnership between the State Department of Ecology, State Department of Health, multiple local health jurisdictions and third-party nonprofit community lender Craft3. The program helps property owners in seventeen Coastal, Columbia River Basin and Puget Sound (Eastern Washington coming soon) counties repair or replace failing on-site sewage systems. Failing on-site sewage systems contaminate local surface and ground water, including nearby streams, lakes and bays, creating a public health hazard, closing waters to swimming and shellfish harvest, and puts residents at risk of losing their homes.

For many property owners, particularly those with lower-incomes, inadequate savings or credit, the cost to deal with failing on-site sewage systems is prohibitive. Craft3 addresses this obstacle by offering affordable Clean Water Loans to cover the full cost of system repairs, designing, permitting and installing new approved systems, or connecting to a sewer when approved by the local health jurisdiction. These loans are structured to work for many property types and income levels, including competitive interest rates and deferred payment options for those with lower incomes. Craft3’s streamlined loan process – which is standardized across all jurisdictions – makes it easy for a property owner to apply for a loan and work with their contractor to design a system for health agency approval. The program leverages economies of scale and Craft3’s lending expertise and infrastructure, making more funds available for loans, outreach and education, with less needed for program administration. In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the RLP as one of five exceptional projects for performance and innovation with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

What worked:

  • Providing $17 million in loans to repair or replace 714 failing on-site sewage systems eliminated bacterial pollution and improved water quality in surface and ground water including local streams, lakes and the Puget Sound.
  • Through the Regional Loan Program 96 million gallons of wastewater is treated annually, reducing bacterial pollution to Puget Sound for the benefit of people and wildlife.
  • Partnering with a nonprofit lender increases access to credit and offers favorable rates and terms, reducing financial barriers of local homeowners when an on-site sewage system needs repair or replacement.
  • Providing forty percent (40%) of loans to low-income homeowners eliminates income barriers to repairing on-site sewage systems.
  • Local health jurisdictions report fewer hours spent on loan administration and more time spent on water quality priorities.
  • Program continues growing with expansion to Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties in 2019.
  • The program was one of five named a PISCES Exceptional Project by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2017.


  • Public health is protected and water quality in Puget Sound is improved.
  • Property owners are able to repair or replace their on-site sewage systems.
  • Federal and state funds are managed efficiently and leveraged.


  • Congressional District: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Legislative District: 1, 2, 5, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42,  43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49
  • WRIA: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
  • Counties: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whatcom


  • Clallam County Health
  • Clark County Health
  • Cowlitz County Health
  • Craft3
  • Department of Ecology
  • Department of Health
  • Grays Harbor County Health
  • Island County Health
  • Jefferson County Health
  • Kitsap Public Health
  • Local Health Jurisdictions
  • Mason County Public Health
  • Northeast Tri-County Health District
  • Pacific County Health
  • Public Health – Seattle and King County
  • Puget Sound Partnership
  • Snohomish County Health
  • Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
  • Thurston County Public Health
  • Whatcom County Health

Project Funding:

  • U.S. EPA State Revolving Loan Fund
  • Centennial Clean Water Fund
  • Private funds leveraged by Craft3


More Info

Publish Date: April 27, 2020