Barnstable County is pleased to provide low-interest betterment loans to Cape Cod homeowners faced with the cost of replacing their septic systems. Cape Cod AquiFund provides financial assistance for septic system replacement, installation of advanced onsite wastewater treatment units, and sewer connections.
Zero and Low-Interest Betterment Loans to help clean up Cape Cod’s Waters
To assist those residents who need the most help in areas where sewers and advanced onsite technologies are being used to clean up Cape Cod’s waters, AquiFund offers an income-based tiered interest rate for new program applicants:
- Eligible homeowners with a household income of less than 120% of Barnstable County’s median household income can qualify for a 0% interest¹ betterment loan.
- Eligible homeowners with a household income of between 120% and 180% of Barnstable County’s median household income can qualify for a 2% interest¹ betterment loan.
- Homeowners with a household income of greater than 180% of Barnstable County’s median household income can qualify for a 4% interest¹ betterment loan.
To be eligible for 0% and 2% loans, projects must meet the following additional criteria¹:
- New applications only.
- Property must be included as part of a nutrient removal project² undertaken by the town that is intended to remediate or prevent nutrient enrichment of a surface water body such as an embayment or pond. At this time only new sewer connections qualify for 0% and 2% loans, as no towns are requiring advanced septic system technologies as part of a nutrient removal project.
- Project must be for the installation of a sewer connection or advanced nitrogen or phosphorus removing septic system that meets the criteria above.
- Property must be a single-family, owner-occupied, year round, primary residence.
- Rental properties are ineligible at this time.
- Property is not used as a place of business other than a home office.
¹ – Interest rates and eligibility criteria are subject to change without notice.
² – Defined by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in 310 CMR 44.03 as ” A water pollution abatement project that is being undertaken by a Local Governmental Unit primarily to remediate or prevent nutrient enrichment of a surface water body or a source of water supply to comply with effluent limitations established under a NPDES permit or an EPA-approved TMDL or to otherwise implement a nutrient management plan approved by the Department. Nutrient Removal Projects include those portions of such projects approved by the Department as reasonably necessary for cost-effective nutrient removal or recovery, and as evidenced by the Local Governmental Unit’s CWMP or a corresponding engineering report or a 208 Plan or watershed restoration plan that is consistent therewith, as determined by the designated areawide planning agency that prepared the 208 Plan.”
The following are provided as examples of projects which are NOT eligible for 0% and 2% loans at this time. This is a list of examples only and is non-exhaustive:
- I/A technologies installed to meet nitrogen loading limitations for public water supply well areas (Zone II’s and IWPA’s)
- I/A technologies installed to meet groundwater separation restrictions
- I/A technologies installed to reduce soil absorption area (leachfield) size
- Projects involving community or facility nitrogen aggregation plans (as in 310 CMR 15.216)
- I/A technologies prior to an ultraviolet disinfection unit which are installed to meet a pathogen reduction standard
Additional Betterment Loan Terms and Conditions
All AquiFund betterment loans are subject to the following terms and conditions:
- Available to residential properties only.
- System must be certified failed by an official Title 5 inspection.
- Maximum 20-year repayment term.
- 14% interest rate for accounts in arrears (behind on payments).
- Early repayment fees may apply.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Through June 30th, 2023, the income requirements are as follows:
- For 0% interest, a household income of $100,500 or less.
- For 2% interest, a household income of $150,500 or less.
Loans finalized prior to March 1st, 2023 are ineligible for reduced interest rates. Only new applications are eligible.
For 4% Interest: Primary as well as secondary residences, condominiums and apartment buildings are some of the types of properties covered.
For 2% and 0% interest: Property must be a single-family, owner-occupied, year round, primary residence. Additional conditions apply.
For 4% interest: Conventional septic systems, alternative septic systems and sewer hook-ups are covered.
For 0% and 2% interest: advanced nitrogen and phosphorus removing septic systems and sewer hook-ups are covered. Additional conditions apply.
This is a septic system that meets either state or local definitions for failure including non-compliant systems.
Frequent pumping, liquid at the surface, gurgling sounds or slow drainage of sinks, shower, or toilets and especially liquid flowing back into your basement are symptoms indicative of a failed septic system.
It covers all work directly relating to the upgrade of a failed residential septic system. This includes the design of the upgrade and the installation of the new components. Also, incidental work associated with this project (e.g. loaming and seeding after work completion, repair to a driveway damaged during construction, plumbing changes required because of the upgrade, town water hook-up or well relocation required because of the septic system upgrade, etc.) are generally covered.
To find out what parts of your project can be covered, email email@example.com, or call 774-330-3010 to speak directly with program staff.
An original completed application, signed and dated, along with a signed and dated copy of your most recent 1040 Federal Tax Return and your most recent mortgage statement is required at a minimum. If you do not file a Federal Tax Return, evidence of sources of income (e.g. Social Security benefits, pension benefits, etc.) should be submitted along with your application.
Once we are in receipt of all required information, you can be approved for a loan in as little as 24 hours. Applications requiring additional review may take longer.
This pertains to a reference for where your deed was recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Book and page refers to recorded land while the document number refers to land court or registered land. If you do not have this information available, we will obtain it once the application is submitted.
This is the parcel identification information obtained from your local property tax bill. If you can not find this number, we will obtain it for you once the application is submitted.
Depending on the exact circumstances of your situation, you should either obtain bids from a designer if no plans for your upgrade exist or an installer if plans are available.
This decision is up to the homeowner. We recommend 3 bids, however this is not a requirement. You should obtain as many bids as you feel are necessary in order to obtain a competitive bid. Once you receive bids, you should forward copies of them to AquiFund for review.
AquiFund will prepare a Betterment Agreement for you to sign. Once signed in the presence of a notary public, AquiFund will be able to pay contractors for septic system related work.
The homeowner should not pay for any work if they expect to be reimbursed. Instead, an original invoice indicating a balance due should be sent to AquiFund for processing.
All invoices must be original. An e-mailed invoice is also acceptable.
Reimbursement for costs associated with the septic system repair project up to 30 days prior to the approval of a completed application is possible, but not guaranteed.
You will be billed directly by Barnstable County and you will make payment on a monthly basis directly to Barnstable County.
At present monthly payments are made online via our website or by check.
The maximum term is 20 years.
By law, the interest rate will increase from 14% per annum. Your account will return to it’s original interest rate if past due principal and interest payments become current.
You can pay more than the minimum payment due and this amount will be credited to your outstanding principal thereby reducing the term of your loan and lowering your total interest payment.
If you pay your loan off within one year of receipt of your first payment, you will be charged a nominal early repayment fee.
There is a tax credit available for primary residence property owners. You should contact the state Department of Revenue with questions and to obtain Schedule SC necessary in order to obtain the credit.
Barnstable County records a Notice of Betterment Assessment at the Barnstable Registry of Deeds for the amount borrowed.
A Certificate for Dissolving Betterments will be prepared following your final payment. The Certificate will need to be recorded by you or your representative at the Registry of Deeds to indicate payment in full of the loan. Any cost associated with recording the Certificate is your responsibility. Please note that there will be only one original Certificate prepared.
If the owner sells or transfers the property, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the unpaid balance of principal and interest shall become due and payable to the County, unless the County has agreed in writing to permit the buyer or transferee of the property to assume the obligation to pay the unpaid balance. Generally speaking, however, the lender for the purchaser of the property will typically require that the County loan be paid in full so that an assumption of the outstanding obligation may not be an option.
No. Betterment loans are considered a tax, and as such cannot be subordinated to new or existing mortgages.
There is no anticipated shortage of funding for this program.
Cape Cod AquiFund (formerly Community Septic Management Loan Program), is a financial assistance program aimed at upgrading failed residential septic systems to Title 5 standards made possible by the enactment of the Open Space Bond Bill of 1996. This law appropriated $30 million to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to assist qualified homeowners in defraying the cost of complying with Title 5 regulations. In turn, MassDEP used this appropriation to fund loans through the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (MCWT).
For over 15 years, the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment has administered program on behalf of all 15 Cape Cod towns. As a way of streamlining the program, Barnstable County secured special legislation in 2006 allowing AquiFund to borrow money directly from the MCWT. To date, AquiFund has provided over $52.5 million in loans for over 4,550 septic system repairs, including sewer hook-ups. Program funds from the state remain available into the foreseeable future, allowing the program to continue providing an effective and efficient means of assisting area residents with often cost-prohibitive yet essential septic system requirements.
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