HUD Sustainable Communities in the NY-CT Metropolitan Region
An unprecedented bi-state collaboration of cities, counties and regional planning organizations has come together to form the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium. The Consortium was awarded a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a competitive national program designed to integrate housing, economic development, transportation and environmental planning in metropolitan regions.
Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water Initiative
Nitrogen pollution from cesspools and septic systems has been identified as the largest single cause of degraded water quality contributing to beach closures, restrictions on shellfishing, toxic algae blooms, and massive fish kills. A conventional onsite septic system was never designed to remove nitrogen. The average residential septic system discharges approximately 40 pounds of nitrogen per year. For homeowners close to surface waters in Suffolk County nitrogen can rapidly reach surface waters where it contributes to degradation of our marshes, bays, and beaches. Even inland, nitrogen from septic systems will eventually reach the groundwater and surface waters.
Thousands of parcels are currently served by polluting cesspools and septic systems, but will never connect to a sewer system. Reversing degradation of water quality will depend on replacement of existing systems with new, individual Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (I/A OWTS).
Over the past several years, Suffolk County has assertively set the stage for the transition to the use of these new systems. To make the cost of I/A systems that remove nitrogen to protect water quality more affordable for homeowners, Suffolk County has devised the Septic Improvement Program consisting of both a grant and low-interest financing program as the next logical piece of the Reclaim Our Water initiative.