267: Managing Septic Grants

Lance Gregory, Environmental Health Division Director with the Virginia Department of Health, discusses Septic Smart Week and the demand for the agency’s Septic and Well Assistance Program; Joel Cantor, Director of the Rutgers Center for State...

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Lance Gregory, Environmental Health Division Director with the Virginia Department of Health, discusses Septic Smart Week and the demand for the agency’s Septic and Well Assistance Program; Joel Cantor, Director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, explains a project to study population health concerns in New Jersey; and this week is also Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

ASTHO Blog Article: Promoting Successful Onsite Wastewater Treatment Programs

Health IT Analytics Webpage: NJ Launches Statewide Population Health Data Project

Rutgers Center for State Health Policy Webpage: Integrated Population Health Data Project

Falls Free Checkup Webpage

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, September 21st, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



We received $11.5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to help low-income homeowners prepare their failing on-site sewage systems and private wells. And that's what we call our SWAP, or Septic and Well Assistance Program.


Lance Gregory is with the Virginia Department of Health, talking about demand for the agency's Septic and Well Assistance Program.


So, actually a very unexpected challenge for us has been the speed at which the program has taken off. So, we've received applications for 285 repair projects in just under seven months of having the program open, and that's estimated to be about $6.5 million in projects.

Our past experience was that, with grant programs, that it took some time to get them off the ground with a lot of outreach to find the interested applicants. But that wasn't the case here. We didn't have to do any outreach, it just really took off. And, thankfully, we've been able to scale up resources.


Gregory says rising prices have been another challenge.


So, inflation is affecting prices on everything. And so, well and septic projects are no exception. So, make sure you're relying on really current cost data when you're modeling your program and how many projects you expect you'll be able to fund with the program.


This is SepticSmart Week across the U.S. Gregory says septic health is a real concern.


We still have lots of people out there with straight pipes and pit privies and relying on springs and systems as opposed to, you know, a well-constructed well. And those can have real world impacts on the health of the families relying on those systems and also the communities, you know, in the case of straight pipes.

So, it's very much a–can be an "out of sight, out of mind" issue for some folks. But it does definitely have real world consequences for the health of our communities.


And Gregory's last bit of advice.


Take the opportunity to learn from other states and see how they're leveraging funds to help address wastewater infrastructure needs. You know, there may be those same funding resources available in your state, you know, you're just not aware of.

You know, I've heard stories about some really great funding programs in Minnesota and Washington and other states, and we certainly tried to incorporate some of the things we heard from those programs into the work we're doing here in Virginia.


ASTHO has written a blog article about work to improve on-site wastewater treatment systems in Virginia and North Carolina. You can read it using the link in the show notes.


A project to study population health concerns in New Jersey is underway. Joel Cantor is director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.


Well, the aim of the IPHD is to encourage actionable population health research using the enhanced statewide data. The IPHD governing board has established several research priorities, but within each of those priorities—a unique feature of the IPHD program is that it actively solicits research ideas from a broad range of outside investigators.


Cantor says researchers and experts are invited to apply for grants and access to data that can help them develop new insights into New Jersey's toughest public health challenges.


The IPHD accepts applications from qualified researchers throughout the country, and we really would like to encourage the nation's top public health researchers to apply.

So, if folks wanna get the word out to their research partners or apply themselves, they're welcome to do so.


You can read more about the Integrated Population Health Data project using the links in the show notes.


Finally today, we're taking note of another problem that plagues many people. O'Keyla Cooper has more.


This is Falls Prevention Awareness Week. The CDC Foundation and National Council on Aging have produced a new online screening tool designed to help older adults check their risk for a fall.

The Falls Free Checkup can help assess the threat of a fall and offer steps that can prevent it. The link to the tool can be found in the show notes.



Also, remember to share the newscast on social media and follow us on your favorite podcast player.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.


I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Joel Cantor ScD

Director, Rutgers Center for State Health Policy

Lance Gregory

Director, Environmental Health Division,