VEE Septic Grant

James River Septic System Repair Cost Share Program

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is excited to announce that we have received $300,000 from the Virginia Environmental Endowment (VEE), with an additional $200,000 from the Smithfield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Smithfield Foods, Inc., for a total of $500,000.  These funds will be used to repair failing septic systems and remediate illicit sewage discharges (straight pipes) from homes located in the James River watershed in James City, Isle of Wight and Surry Counties. VDH’s primary objective is to help homeowners in these counties bring their failing systems into current regulatory compliance, thereby reducing total nitrogen and fecal coliform loads from each system.

The grant provides homeowners with failing septic systems a financial incentive to upgrade to an advanced treatment system, also known as an Alternative Onsite Sewage System (AOSS) or connect to public sewer.  If eligible, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) can provide funding to homeowners for design services, construction costs, and equipment needed to install a regulatory compliant AOSS, including 50 percent nitrogen reduction.  VDH developed the grant as a cost-share program.  VDH bases funding amounts on total household income levels.

Homeowners with household income levels of 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) may receive funding up to $18,000.  Homeowners with a household income level of 201% to 400% FPG may receive funding up to $13,500.  Homeowners with a household income level greater than 400% FPG may receive funding up to $9,000.

The grant period runs for no more than three years (January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021).

For more information, please contact Dave Tiller at of by phone at (804) 785-2135.

Eligibility Guidelines

Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will administer grant funds to homeowners on a cost-share basis. Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), grant funding will cover a variable percentage of the septic system repair costs. Homeowners are responsible for the remaining costs that the grant does not cover. Grant funding percentage is as follows:

Total Household Income Maximum Grant Funding Owner’s Responsibility
200% FPG or less  100% up to $18,000 Cost exceeding $18,000
>200% to 400% FPG 75% up to $13,500 Costs exceeding $13,500
> 400%  50% up to $9,000 Costs exceeding $9,000

Example 1: Household income >200%FPG to <400% FPG

Total cost of design and repair $16,000. Grant reimbursement $12,000 ($16,000 X 75%). Owner responsibility $4,000.

 Example 2: Household income > 400% FPG

Total cost of design and repair $20,000. Grant reimbursement $9,000 ($18,000 X 50%). Owner responsible for the $2,000 that was over the cost allowed by the grant + 50% of $18,000 = $11,000.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will reimburse the homeowner for septic repair costs after system installation and approval. The owner must provide a cancelled check, cash receipt, credit card statement, or an invoice directly from the contractor and designer stating “Paid in Full” with the designer’s and contractor’s signatures. The owner is required to submit three bids to VDH prior to receiving grant approval. VDH bases reimbursement on the lowest bid.


Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,480 for each additional person.
1 $12,760
2 $17,240
3 $21,720
4 $26,200
5 $30,680
6 $35,160
7 $39,640
8 $44,120