Suffolk County Executive Bellone Announces First Round Of Grant Applications Accepted For Septic Improvement Program

Nine Homeowners Issued Grants to Replace their Outdated Septic Systems and Cesspools; 165 Homeowners Have Applied to Date.

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Photo by: Suffolk County Via YouTube

Suffolk County, NY - July 11, 2017 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the issuance of the first round of grant certificates under Suffolk County's Septic Improvement Program, the first-of-its-kind water quality program in New York State. As of today, nine grants have been issued to homeowners to help them replace their outdated septic systems or cesspools with advanced wastewater technologies designed to significantly reduce nitrogen pollution.  In total,165 homeowners have applied for the program. 
The nine homeowners whose grant applications have been approved should expect to receive their grant certificate and acceptance packets in the mail this week and, upon signing the grant agreement, will be able to begin the process of replacing their aging systems by contacting a design professional.
“Suffolk County is leading the state with innovative programs that will help reclaim our waters while providing homeowners an affordable means to take bold action," said County Executive Bellone. “Our Septic Improvement Program online portal is up and running and we encourage Suffolk homeowners to apply for these grants to in order to replace their aging cesspools or septic systems."
On July 3, homeowners began to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to offset the expense of purchasing and installing an innovative and alternative, nitrogen-reducing, onsite wastewater system. These state-of-the-art types of systems typically cost between $15,000 and $20,000. An additional $1,000 in grant money may be available for residents wishing to install optional pressurized shallow drainfields, used to improve distribution of wastewater from the systems. 
Homeowners may also qualify to finance the remaining cost of the systems over 15 years at a low 3% fixed interest rate, potentially providing the homeowner with no initial out-of-pocket costs and payments of only $50 per month. By contrast, a conventional septic system would cost homeowners $8,000 out of pocket and would not provide the improved performance or longer life span that the state-of-the-art advanced wastewater systems have demonstrated to provide.
In order to receive the grant, the property owner’s income must be less than $300,000 a year for the full grant, or $500,000 a year for half of the grant.  Preferential consideration will be given to properties in environmentally sensitive areas, and systems which are in failure - such as requiring two or more pumpouts required in the past year. To be considered, the residence must be single-family and the homeowner’s primary year–round home.
Suffolk Deputy County Executive Peter Scully said: “Under County Executive Bellone’s strong leadership, and with the active support of the business and environmental communities, we are setting the stage to reverse decades of nitrogen pollution that has negatively impacted our bays and harbors. This is an historic day in Suffolk County.”
Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Health Commissioner, said: “Reducing the amount of nitrogen that is currently leaching into our surface waters is crucial to combating low oxygen levels, reducing harmful algal blooms and contaminants, and alleviating adverse impacts to eelgrass, wetlands, shellfish, and coastal resiliency. The Reclaim Our Waters Septic Improvement Program, in conjunction with the County’s Comprehensive Water Plan, provides a strategy to accomplish the mission of the County and the Department of Health Services.”
The Septic Improvement Program falls under the auspice of County Executive Bellone’s Reclaim Our Water initiative. Launched in 2014, Reclaim Our Water includes $383 million in federal and state aid for the largest expansion of sewer infrastructure in Suffolk County since the 1970s. The initiative is supported by the 2015 Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan, which provides critical recommendations to manage and protect the region’s water resources.
For the first year of the program, total accessible funds available amount to $2 million through the County’s Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund (ASRF). Subsequently, each year through 2021 will be funded with $2 million from the Suffolk County ASRF. Funding for the grant-based program was made possible by Suffolk County residents who voted to approve a 2014 referendum, which authorized use of funding for nitrogen reducing septic systems.
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.
Suffolk County’s newly launched Reclaim Our Water Septic Improvement Program website provides homeowners with financial, regulatory, technical and infrastructure aspects of the Septic Improvement Program.  This also includes a list of wastewater industry leaders with information pertaining to septic industry training that are in accordance to Suffolk County law and the recently updated Suffolk County Sanitary Code.
For more information on eligibility and system information or to apply online, visit, contact, or call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at 631-852-5811.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Aug. 11, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is March 12, 2018.