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Community Aquifer Protection Assistance (CAPA) Program

Community Aquifer Protection Assistance (CAPA) Program is one of many Success Stories that have been locally nominated for recognition in celebration of CDBG's 30th Anniversary.

Success Story Details

Grantee: County of Spokane, Washington
Field Office: Seattle (Region 10)
Carried Out By: Spokane County Housing & Community Development
Eligibility: 570.208 (a)(2) Low/Mod Income Limited Clientele
Natl. Objective: Benefit low- and moderate-income persons
CDBG $400,000
Other $0
Total $400,000
Date Started: 1988
Date Completed: 2010
IDIS Activity No: 04-12 and 04-13
Grantee Contact: Timothy Crowley (TCrowley@spokanecounty.org)
Grantee Website: Spokane County Housing & Community Development Department (http://www.spokanecounty.org/communitydev/project_information.htm)

Success Story Description

In the early 1980s, Spokane County was tasked by the Department of Ecology to eliminate septic tanks above the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. The aquifer is the sole source of drinking water for the Spokane metropolitan area. The city of Spokane already had a centralized sewage collection system for its households; however, all households outside of the city limits utilized on-site sewage treatment facilities, such as septic tanks. Since 1984, Spokane County has connected almost 26,000 households to the centralized sewer system. As it approaches the completion of the Sewer Construction Program in 2009, it will have connected over 32,000 households. That figure is more impressive when you look at the fact that over 32,000 septic tanks will have been eliminated, many sitting less than 40 feet above the actual aquifer.

The downside of the program is that the cost of connecting a home to the centralized sewer oftentimes could force a low-income homeowner out of the home. The average homeowner cost of hooking up to the sewer system in 2004 will be approximately $7,000. To help ease the burden of these costs, the Community Aquifer Protection Assistance (CAPA) Program was developed. In 1988, Spokane County received its CDBG Entitlement Status because it was located over a sole source aquifer. The CAPA Program still accounts for over 25% of all CDBG expenditures and remains an integral, vital part of the overall Sewer Construction Program.

With the help of the CAPA Program, low-income homeowners qualify for a no-interest loan to connect their home to the sewer. It becomes payable when the home is sold or refinanced. If they are very low-income, they qualify for a grant to pay the Capital Facilities Rate (Special Assessment) as well. Approximately 2% of all county households qualify for the grants and 4% of all county households qualify for the loans. Without CDBG funds, very low-income homeowners would be forced to leave their homes. Annually, nearly $400,000 in CDBG funds has been set-aside for the CAPA Program, with about 50% for special assessment grants and 50% for no-interest loans. Between 1998 through 2001, 351 loans totaling $733,500 were given to low-income homeowners. During that same time, 176 grants totaling $796,650 were given to very low-income homeowners. The need is even greater in 2004 due to the increase of households being sewered in lower income neighborhoods.

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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