Cesspools leach nitrogen directly into our groundwater which makes its way to the Great South Bay.

We advocate for cesspool replacement, whether from on site denitrification systems such as are now being certified by Suffolk County, or from sewering along Main Streets or in low lying areas where this approach is more applicable. There are over 400,000 cesspools and septic tanks in Suffolk County alone. We have two choices — Sewering or on site systems.

Septic Improvement Program Overview

(from Reclaim Our Water website)

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 shell fishing, toxic algae blooms, and massive fish kills. 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 — with an average total cost of $19,200, contingent on system requirements and site constraints — 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 Stake 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 via a loan, payable over 15 years at a low 3% fixed interest rate. The purpose of the loan is to provide “gap” funds to finance the difference between the grant to be provided by Suffolk County and the contract amount needed to install the replacement septic system. Financing up to $10,000 is available.

Grant Eligibility:

  • The residence cannot be connected to a sewer system or located within a proposed sewer district
  • Documents such as copies of the property deed, the most recent homeowner’s insurance policy statement, most recent property tax bill, and Certificate of Occupancy.
  • Income verification for applicants wishing to apply for the LMI grant (Federal Adjusted Gross Income based on most recent tax return)

Click here for full eligibility criteria.

Learn more about the Septic Improvement Program, application requirements, and I/A OWTS installation costs.


Visit Reclaim Our Water for more info.

*Image credit: Newsday

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