Homeowners can play a significant role in protecting the quality of Long Island surface and ground water by installing advanced wastewater treatment systems that reduce nitrogen pollution. Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water Septic Improvement Program is among the numerous initiatives supported by the Long Island Regional Planning Council, which is an active force in fostering the creation of options that reduce nitrogen.
In June 2017, LIRPC representatives joined with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, other elected officials, and environmental groups, as he signed into law New York’s first water quality program that helps homeowners replace their outdated septic systems or cesspools with advanced wastewater technologies at an affordable rate.
Under the Reclaim Our Water Septic Improvement Program, homeowners who decide to replace their cesspool or septic system with the new technologies will be eligible for a grant of up to $11,000 — inclusive of installing a pressurized shallow drain field — to offset the cost of one of the new systems.
In addition to the grant, homeowners can qualify to finance the remaining cost of the systems over 15 years at a low 3 percent fixed interest rate. The loan program will be administered by Community Development Corporation of Long Island Funding Corp, with financial support from Bridgehampton National Bank, in the amount $1 million and financial commitments from several philanthropic foundations.
Additional information about the program is available at www.reclaimourwater.info. Funding for the grant-based program was made possible by Suffolk County residents that voted to approve a 2014 referendum, which authorized use of funding for nitrogen reducing septic systems.
More than 360,000 homes in the Suffolk County rely on outdated cesspools and septic systems that do not properly treat wastewater to remove nitrogen. Studies show that declining water quality that has closed beaches, caused brown tides and fish kills is cause by excess nitrogen, and that cesspools and septics are the largest source of nitrogen pollution.