Frequently Asked Questions

How do the provisionally approved technologies reduce Nitrogen? 

Nitrogen-reducing systems (I/A OTWS) use various methods to provide aerobic bacteria to convert nitrogen to nitrite and then apply an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment to denitrify by stripping the oxygen molecule off of the nitrate nitrogen, resulting in the release of gaseous nitrogen into the atmosphere. The nitrogen cycle is one of Earth’s most important biological processes, second only to photosynthesis.

How does an I/A OWTS benefit the homeowner?

In addition to providing environmental benefits and reducing the nitrogen load to ground and surface waters, residents receive many other benefits from these state-of-the-art technologies. I/A OWTS can be more cost effective than conventional systems on lots with significant site constraints such as high groundwater, poor soils, small restrictive lot size, and coastal area. In addition, I/A OWTS consist of separate components, all of which are replaceable if something goes wrong. A resident may have to replace a pump or blower after 10 years, but they should not have to dig up and replace the system as is common with conventional systems. In some jurisdictions, I/A systems are said to increase property value. 

If I have an I/A-OWTS installed with a grant from the Program, can I re-move the unit or make it inoperable? 

No, the conditions of funding do not allow for removal or deactivation. Be sure you are committed to this system before applying for a grant. 

Which pollutants, other than nitrogen, does the system treat for, if any?

I/A OWTS are designed to reduce wastewater nitrogen, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and total suspended solids before being discharged below grade to leaching structures. Studies have shown that certain types of I/A OWTS treatment processes and leaching structures have the ability to reduce bacteria, viruses, and contaminants of emerging concern such as certain types of compounds/chemicals found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products that are present in wastewater.

Must a recipient maintain service in perpetuity? 

Yes, the recipient is responsible for ensuring that their grant-funded system is inspected and maintained at least once per year by a licensed service provider. 

Does the process require any approvals? 

Design professionals (engineer or architect) should help residents understand which permits would be required for electric, plumbing, wetlands, or dewatering. It is recommended that a resident’s selected design professional check with the local town/village building department to verify if a permit is required for the I/A OWTS electrical work or for any internal plumbing modifications if required. For residents in close proximity to surface waters and/or wetlands, their selected design professional should check with the NYS DEC and/or Town/Village to determine if a permit is required due to setbacks to surface waters or wetlands. 

What are the electrical demands? 

I/A OWTS electrical consumption vary from system to system due to different treatment processes with different pumps and blowers required to treat the wastewater. Depending on the treatment process and manufacturer, the system either runs continuously or on-demand. Of the systems that have been provisionally approved, annual electric costs range from $57 to $266 per year.  In the event of a power loss, the system will still work like a conventional septic system, unless there is a back-up generator. 

Is the program tax deductible? 

Although the IRS allows taxpayers to claim tax credits for a handful of home-improvements, upgrades, and maintenance to your personal residence, such as a replacement septic tank, are nondeductible expenses, although one may be able to help defer capital gains taxes when you sell your property. 

Design considerations 

A comprehensive soil and site investigation will identify the preferred location and the type of system that is appropriate for the site conditions. Separation distances between OWTS components and property boundaries, structures (existing or planned) and other site features are necessary. The required infiltrative area is determined from: (a) properly conducted soil percolation and deep hole tests to accurately identify the site and soil conditions and (b) projected wastewater dispersion direction.

How do I measure the treatment capabilities of my current system and confirm whether or not is less than 1,000 gallons per day? 

Please refer to Appendix 75-A Wastewater Treatment Standards - Residential Onsite Systems, link found here: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/docs/appendix_75a.pdf

I rent out a house on my property, would this building’s system be eligible for an I/A upgrade through the SEPTIC program?

Yes, assuming the total discharge is less than 1,000 gallons per day.

I have more than one building on my property utilizing the same system, would I be eligible for an I/A upgrade?

Yes, assuming the total discharge is less than 1,000 gallons per day.

Does the SEPTIC program reimburse sales tax?

No, sales tax is an ineligible cost and will not be reimbursed.

This program focuses on failing systems, how is failing defined?

“Failure” – means evidence of dye on the ground surface or in a watercourse, evidence of sewage effluent on the ground surface or in a watercourse, or other obvious failure of system components (i.e. collapse of a septic tank). Observed effluent may need to be confirmed as a “failure” by the introduction of dye into the treatment system and subsequent field observation for dye. 

What are the FEMA flood zone construction requirements?

Please contact the system manufacturer for FEMA requirements. 

If grant funds cannot be used for new construction, what about substantial reconstruction?

Grant funds can be used for repairs to an existing system using I/A technology.  Therefore, if the property undergoing reconstruction, but has a previous system in place, it would be eligible under the program.

I am building a new house and wish to install and I/A system, would I be eligible for the program?

While new construction is not eligible for the program, if there is a current system in place for the property (i.e. the old house was demolished in order to build a new one), the property would be eligible for an upgrade to an I/A system under the program.

Can I apply for the SEPTIC Program retro-actively? 

Yes, you may apply retroactive to the installation of an I/A system.  However, applying does not a guarantee that you will receive a grant award.  

What costs are eligible for reimbursement through this program?

To be eligible for reimbursement, an incurred cost must be reasonable and necessary for work done to a septic system if it is determined by the County Health Department or other authorized agent that such septic system is failing or reasonably likely to fail prior to any repairs, or such system has received a Notice of Violation or Notice of Failure prior to any repairs. Eligible costs are listed below:

  • Design and installation costs, and costs of the system, system components, or enhanced treatment technologies. 
  • Design costs are eligible, limited only to work needed to complete an approved design, including needed site investigation.

What costs are ineligible for reimbursement through this program?

  • Routine maintenance such as a pump out of a septic tank. 
  • Any expenses that are not appropriately documented
  • Government permit fees, including but not limited to fees assessed for building permits, zoning permits, and floodplain disturbance permits
  • Interest and late fees
  • Fines and penalties 
  • The payment of sales tax
  • Non-essential site beautification or interior plumbing changes
  • Administrative work conducted by the engineer
  • Construction observation by the engineer if the engineer, or an entity owned, controlled by, or employing the engineer, is also conducting the repair or replacement.

We presently have two cesspools for a single-family home - one for solid waste and an overflow for wastewater. Would we qualify for the program?

Yes, as long as the discharge flowing into the system is less than 1,000 gallons per day.

If I have an I/A OWTS installed with a grant from the Nassau SEPTIC Program, can I remove the unit or make it inoperable? 

No, the conditions of funding do not allow for removal or deactivation.