County Executive Joins Local Officials, Community Leaders, Environmental Advocates to Hold Ceremonial “First Flush.”
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY - May 18, 2018 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the newly installed nitrogen-reducing Innovative and Alternative On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (I/A OWTS) at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park, on the County’s largest fresh water lake, is now operational and is helping to revitalize and improve the lake’s water quality. County Executive Bellone, local officials, community leaders, and environmental advocates partook in a ceremonial first flush to commemorate the successful installation of the new system. The I/A OWTS will remove 210 pounds of nitrogen per year and will help prevent further contamination in the lake.
“Advancing Suffolk County’s wastewater infrastructure and reducing nitrogen pollution in our waterways is one of my administration’s top priorities,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Nitrogen is the single largest cause of degraded water quality and the installation of an advanced system at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park will help ensure our water is safe for generations to come.”
Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy said: “We must continue to use all methods available to mitigate nitrogen in our septic systems. This measure is a step in the right direction for both drinking water purity and the purity of our lake.”
Construction on the installation of the I/A OWTS began in October of 2017 and was completed earlier this month. The funding to install the new advanced system was supplied by the Enhanced Suffolk County Water Quality Protection Program. Suffolk County established the $2 million fund to finance wastewater upgrades at County and municipal parks throughout the County. The cost of the upgrades to the existing sewage disposal system at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park totaled approximately $226,000.
The sewage disposal system at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park, prior to the installation of the I/A OWTS, was installed in November of 1985 and consisted of a septic tank and fourteen leaching pools. The new system installed is the Norweco Hydro-Kinetic with Eljen leaching field, which was approved for use by Suffolk County in 2017. The system works by using the extended aeration and attached growth processes to treat wastewater, and features innovative nitrification-denitrification technology. The system will treat in excess of 1,500 gallons of wastewater per day and provide advanced nitrogen removal of up to a 70% reduction as compared to a conventional onsite sewage disposal systems.
The installation of the new system is part of County Executive Bellone’s Reclaim our Water initiative, which seeks to reduce nitrogen pollution of groundwater and surface waters from cesspools and septic systems through the connection of communities to sewer systems and the installation of advanced on-site wastewater treatment systems. Nitrogen pollution in Suffolk County waterways contributes to beach closures, restrictions on harvesting of shellfish, harmful algae blooms, and fish kills.
To make these new systems more affordable for homeowners, Suffolk County developed the first-in-the-state Septic Improvement Program. The Septic Improvement Program provides homeowners who upgrade their systems with the new technology grants of up to $11,000 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.