Septic Improvement Program Overview
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 developed the Septic Improvement Program. 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 $30,000 from Suffolk County and New York State 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% 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.
*Note: The average total cost for approved systems, including attendant engineering and design services, is approximately $19,200. Costs will vary on a case-by-case basis. Please review our documents detailing the estimated vendor costs, and costs associated with owning an I/A OWTS.
Grant Eligibility Criteria:
In order for an application to be considered for a grant the following preliminary criteria must be met:
- The residence must be served by a septic system or cesspool and not connected to a sewer system or located within a proposed sewer district.
- New construction on vacant lots is not eligible.
- Property does not have any outstanding or open real property tax liens.
- There must be a valid certificate of occupancy (CO) or equivalent issued by the applicable town or village.
- Income verification (Property Owners must provide a copy of each property owner’s most recently filed federal income tax return).
- Please note that in order to complete the application process, you will be required to submit the following documents:
- Copy of property deed
- Proof of Homeowner’s Insurance
- Copy of most recent property tax bill
- Copy of Certificate of Occupancy or equivalent
- If applicable: the first two pages of property owner(s)’ latest year’s tax return along with signature page. (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ). Please be sure to redact your social security number.
- If applicable: proof of sanitary system failure (photo, service receipts, etc.)
Applications will be received, scored, and ranked in the following order of priority:
- A qualifying Residential Parcel located within the Priority Critical Areas (high and medium density residential parcels less than one acre located within the 0 – 2 year groundwater travel time to surface waters as defined in the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan or high or medium density residential parcels within 1,000 feet of enclosed water bodies in Suffolk County)
- A qualifying Residential Parcel located within Critical Areas (high and medium density residential parcels less than one acre located within the 2-25 year groundwater travel time to surface waters as defined in the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan)
- A qualifying Residential Parcel located outside of a Priority Critical Area or outside of a Critical Area.