As more homeowners continue to tie-in to the sewer system, the Warwick Sewer Authority is reminding residents they may qualify for grants to help offset costs. In the past five years alone, the Sewer Grant Fund program has distributed $344,000 to 430 low-income property owners to assist with connection costs.
Residents who meet income requirements receive one-time grants of $800, administered through the city's Office of Community Development. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be administered until all funds are utilized.
The program's precursor was a loan/grant program begun in the 1980s with a portion of voter-approved bond funds. Originally, funds were given to help offset costs for upgrades to failing on-site collection systems in neighborhoods that weren't sewered. Eventually, the WSA board of directors authorized the reprogramming of those funds for sewer tie-in grants. That money, together with proceeds from the collection of onsite loan repayments, has traditionally provided the grant funding. It's expected that money remaining in the fund supplemented by annual lease revenue will provide for hundreds of additional grants in the next decade.
“While connecting to the sewer system is a smart investment and protects our surface and groundwater resources, the Sewer Authority has recognized that finding the money to make that connection can be difficult,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian in a statement. “The WSA worked with the City’s Community Development office to implement and administer the sewer tie-in grants as part of an array of assistance programs aimed at homeowners looking to make improvements to their properties.”
According to WSA Executive Director Janine Burke, “The goal is to eliminate the cesspools and old septic systems wherever possible. Many people need financial assistance in this regard and our challenge has been to find a steady stream of funding for this sewer connection grant program. In addition to the grants to income-eligible individuals, which is clearly in demand, the Sewer Authority has also implemented a low-interest loan program with no income requirements