Posted: November 16, 2009 at 4:19 a.m.

— When Theresa Griffith of Rogers turns on her washing machine, she always takes a minute or two to look at the backyard because she knows that within a few moments of the spin cycle taking off, her lawn will be filled with water.

That’s because Griffith’s septic system is failing. She is disabled and living on a fixed income and can’t aftord the $4,000 to $6,000 to repair the system.

When she heard about a new grant Benton County was seeking to help residents in her situation, Griffth was thrilled.

The $128,700 grant is a HUD grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and will help repair, replace or install septic systems for 15 families — including Griffth — in Benton County, Kathy Bannister, county grants administrator, said.

Typically money from the commission is used for water and sewer projects. Using the money to install septic systems will be a fi rst in Arkansas, Bannister said, noting the money is still being used for its intended purpose.

Households were approved based on need and income levels, Bannister said.

The project is one particularly important to Benton County because with neighboring Washington County, there are more septic systems here than in any other two-county area in Arkansas, said Piper Satterfield, an environmental specialist with the Benton County Health Department.

“If you live in Benton County, there is a good chance you are on a septic system whether you know it or not,” Satterfield said. “When you flush your toilet, that water goes somewhere, so it is very important septic systems are done right. People want to fix their septic systems, and they want to do the right thing but they cannot aft ord it,” Satterfi eld said.

Design work and site inspections began last Monday, and installation will start as early as January, Bannister said.

For Griffth, just knowing a new septic system is on the way is a relief.

“To have it repaired and not have to worry about harming us or the environment is just a blessing,” Griffth said. “I will be glad to be able to do things without worrying.”