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Cass County, SWCD offer cost-share programs to landowners

Cass County and the Cass Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) have several cost-share programs and low-interest loans available to county property owners that can help protect water quality in lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.

Cass County and the Cass Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) have several cost-share programs and low-interest loans available to county property owners that can help protect water quality in lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.

"Since 2005, we have worked with over 100 Cass County landowners and protected over 2 miles of shoreline through our cost-share program," said Kelly Condiff, SWCD shoreline specialist. "This program has helped landowners to restore natural buffers along shorelines to reduce sedimentation and pollution, which degrades the natural habitats of lakes."

Up to 50 percent or $2,000 may be available for projects that have a sound restoration plan. Some work may require a permit and SWCD can help landowners identify permit needs, contractors and appropriate native plants.

Many landowners do not realize that abandoned wells present safety, environmental and legal risks. Children and small animals can easily fall into an unprotected, open well. Also, accidents can occur when equipment is unsuspectingly driven over a crumbling well or well pit.

An unused well can act like a drain, allowing surface water runoff, contaminated water or improperly disposed waste a direct pathway into drinking water sources. When this occurs, the quality of everyone's water is threatened - city water wells, neighbor's wells, even your current well.

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Consider the responsibility and liability issues if an old well on your property is proved to be a conduit for contaminants that reach a drinking water source for neighbors or your city. Cass County offers a cost-share program to help property owners seal abandoned wells. Up to $250 per application is available to properly seal an abandoned well by a licensed well contractor.

Low interest loans (3 percent rate) are available to Cass County qualified landowners to repair or upgrade an existing non-conforming septic system.

"We hope to improve our environment by repairing or replacing non-compliant systems and providing access to low-interest funding," said John Ringle, Cass County director of environmental services/SWCD district manager.

Five-year loans of up to $8,000 are available to private property owners in Cass County through a program administered by the Region Five Development Commission. Funding priority, if necessary, will be given to properties participating in the Healthy Lakes Program.

Moving septic systems out of environmentally sensitive areas is important to protect clean water and habitat in this lake-rich region. A similar program for drinking water wells is also available from the Region Five Development Commission.

For more information on restoring shoreline, sealing wells or new septic systems, contact Kelly Condiff at kelly.condiff@co.cass.mn.us or 218-547-7246, or Brenda Davis at Brenda.davis@co.cass.mn.us or 218-547-7399.

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