SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE ANNOUNCES FIRST INSTALLATION OF ADVANCED ONSITE WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEM UNDER SEPTIC IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
First-in-the-State Water Quality Program Makes it Affordable for Homeowners to Replace Outdated Systems
$10 Million Program Provides Grants and Low-Interest Financing to Purchase Nitrogen-Treatment Systems
140 Suffolk Residents Have Submitted Applications, With 79 Grants Approved to Date
More Information on Program Available Here; Photos from Event Available Here
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the first advanced wastewater treatment system has been installed under the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program. The program – the first-of-its-kind in the state – provides financial assistance and incentives to homeowners to fund these systems at an affordable rate. In turn, homeowners play a significant role in reducing nitrogen pollution in our ground- and-surface water on Long Island.
The County Executive made the announcement at the home of Anthony Hobson, the first resident to be approved and install a new HydroAction system. Hobson, a Flanders resident, applied for the program this summer on July 3 and was approved for a grant just eight days later on July 11.
“Today marks a major milestone in our fight to reclaim our water and puts us on the path to ending the water quality crisis on Long Island,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “I encourage all eligible homeowners to take advantage of the financial incentives offered through the Septic Improvement Program so they replace their systems in an affordable manner.”
In July 2017, Suffolk County launched the first-in-the-state Septic Improvement Program to incentivize eligible homeowners to replace their cesspool or septic system with the newer and advanced wastewater treatment technologies. Homeowners can apply for grants of up to $11,000 to offset the cost of one of the new systems, which typically cost between $15,000 and $20,000. An additional $1,000 in grant money may be available for residents wishing to install optional pressurized shallow drain fields, used to improve distribution of wastewater from the systems.
In addition to the grant, homeowners can qualify to finance the remaining cost of the systems over 15years at a low 3% fixed interest rate. The loan program will be administered by CDCLI Funding Corp, with financial support from Bridgehampton National Bank in the amount $1 million and financial commitments from several philanthropic foundations.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele said: "Suffolk County's new water quality program is a major step forward in the ongoing public-private partnership to protect and upgrade our waters. Together with New York State's $2.5 billion water quality improvement program approved by the State Legislature in April and voter approval on the East End of a new water quality component to the Community Preservation Fund last November, thousands of homeowners will now be able to access the financial incentives necessary to upgrade outdated and failing septic systems. I thank County Executive Bellone for his leadership.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said: “ Southampton Town and Suffolk County have provided the path forward for homeowners to reduce their impact on our waters. For the first time residents of the East End have affordable options to replace their outdated septic systems. I would like to thank County Executive Bellone for his continued leadership on this issue and look forward to building on this success."
To date, 532 residents have registered to submit an application to obtain grant funding through the program, including 140 who have submitted applications and 79 that have been issued grant certificates for approval.
A total of $10 million over 5 years has been appropriated by the Suffolk County Legislature through the Suffolk County Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund. This equates to $2 million for the first year as well as each subsequent year through 2021. Funding for the grant-based program was made possible as a result of approval by Suffolk County voters of a 2014 referendum that authorized use of funding for nitrogen reducing septic systems.
“This is marks another significant step forward in the County’s aggressive effort to combat nitrogen pollution," said Deputy County Executive Peter A. Scully. “Thanks to County Executive Bellone’s strong leadership, we are finally making real progress in dealing with a problem that threatens both our environment and our economy, and which has defied all prior attempts at solutions.”
Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Health Services, said: “The installation of this small, advanced wastewater treatment system represents a giant step forward for improving environmental health in Suffolk County.”
Prior to the launch of the Septic Improvement Program, Suffolk County in 2014 announced its Septic Demonstration Pilot Program to determine which wastewater treatment technologies and systems were most effective in treating for nitrogen. As part of the pilot, 43 Suffolk County homeowners were chosen through a lottery and provided with a free system that included free installation, maintenance and monitoring over five years.
More than 360,000 homes in Suffolk County rely on outdated cesspools and septic systems that do not treat properly wastewater to remove nitrogen, more than the entire state of New Jersey. Studies show that nitrogen is, by far, the most significant pollutant of our generation. It has caused declining water quality and resulted in aquatic oxygen levels that are too low to support healthy ecosystems in all three of our major estuary systems. Nitrogen has also contributed to closed beaches and fish kills, as well as brown tide and other harmful algal blooms. Cesspools and septic systems are the largest source of nitrogen pollution.
Suffolk County residents are encouraged to visit www.ReclaimOurWater.info for more information about the Septic Improvement Program or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding the program and their current septic or cesspool situation.
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