Groundwater will be better protected after 16 septage lagoon operators have been awarded about $900,000 to upgrade facilities by Nova Scotia’s Septage Treatment Facility Assistance Program. Pumper truck operators and Nova Scotia n homeowners with septic tanks will also benefit from the program, because septage lagoon operators will be able to improve operations and service without passing all costs on to homeowners. “Pumping home septic tanks regularly is an essential task in maintaining on-site sewage systems, and that material needs to he handled properly to prevent environmental impact,” said Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent. “Nova Scotia has new guidelines for the proper handling of this material, however we are working with operators to ensure all facilities are up to the task of meeting these goals.” About 400,000 Nova Scotians rely on 27 facilities to handle material pumped from home septic tanks. Under the assistance program, operators of septage handling facilities are eligible for assistance of up to $50,000 for upgrades to facilities, or up to $100,000 for the construction of replacement facilities and new technology to meet new guidelines. Allan Baird, owner of Baird’s Septic Tank Pumping Ltd. and the Septic Pumpers representative with Wastewater Nova Scotia, encourages operators to participate in the program. “This assistance is a chance for us, as operators, to improve our service without passing all the cost onto the homeowner,” said Mr. Baird. “We hope that it will also assist in maintaining services to all areas of the province.” To participate in the Septage Treatment Facility Assistance Program, operators should contact the Kentville office of Environment and Labour at 902-679-6086. For more information on the Nova Scotia Septage Treatment Facility Assistance Program, see the Department of Environment and Labour website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla .