News Flash

County Executive

Posted on: April 28, 2021

Curran Announces Program to Replace Failing/Outdated Cesspools Harmful to Public Health/Environment

Program grants eligible property owners up to $10,000 for nitrogen reducing septic upgrades

Nassau County, NY (April 27, 2021) -- Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced today that the County will soon be accepting applications from residents and small businesses to replace their conventional or failing cesspools or septic systems with environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art technology that reduces nitrogen, thereby better protecting public health and the local environment.

The SEPTIC program, made possible through a $2 million grant from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will provide funding to eligible recipients to replace a conventional or failing septic system with an innovative and alternative onsite wastewater treatment system.  Nassau County is offering grants of 50% of the costs, up to $10,000, for homeowners or small businesses to install state-of-the-art nitrogen reducing septic systems.

“Water is one of our most precious resources, but nitrogen pollution from cesspools and septic systems has been identified as one of the largest causes of poor water quality and contributes to toxic algae blooms, which contaminate our water and leads to inhabitable conditions for marine life. I encourage eligible property owners to participate in SEPTIC to take advantage of this opportunity to update their septic systems, to help preserve our water quality and environment for generations to come,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“Where hooking up to existing sewer systems is not available, the I/A system provides the most environmentally sensitive and cost-effective alternative,” said North Hempstead Town Clerk Wayne Wink. “I am pleased that the county is extending this grant program to small businesses and single-family homeowners.  I encourage them to consider this option.”

Malfunctioning septic systems are one of the leading causes of groundwater pollution on Long Island. Nitrogen, disease-causing bacteria and viruses from wastewater can contaminate drinking water supplies. Septic system failure is also one of the leading sources of surface water pollution, contributing to toxic algae blooms and the suffocation of aquatic life.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “These grants, funded by the State’s Septic System Replacement Program, are critical to improving water quality and protecting public health by providing support to homeowners replacing aging septic systems. In partnership with Nassau County, Long Island homeowners in one of New York’s most vulnerable watersheds will be able to update outdated infrastructure and help prevent water pollution, and I applaud County Executive Curran and her team for advancing this important program.”

Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President and CEO Joseph Rabito said, “By funding these State grants to homeowners, the Environmental Facilities Corporation is providing impactful support to our partners in Nassau County as they work to reduce the number of aging septic systems in operation.  Protecting the health of communities across New York State through clean water projects is at the core of our mission and we are very pleased that Nassau County is taking proactive steps to address this important issue.”

Tens of thousands of homes and small businesses in Nassau County located along the North Shore are currently served by cesspools and septic systems. 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) designed to remove nitrogen. When properly designed, sited, installed, managed, and maintained, these new septic systems provide a cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative to sewers in areas that are outside designated sewer areas. These systems significantly reduce nitrogen, biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids, before being discharged below grade to leaching structures.

I/A OWTS can provide greater performance reliability and reduce the number of pump outs for homeowners that currently pump out their wastewater systems more than once per year, as well improve property values and reduce the risks of disease.

“Here on Long Island, water quality is critical to both our economy and quality of life. Keeping it clean requires all of us to pitch in,” said Tara Schneider-Moran, Chair of the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District. “These S.E.P.T.I.C. Program grants make it more affordable for property owners who rely on septic systems to do their part and upgrade to nitrogen-reducing systems. We encourage all who are eligible to apply.”

‘Today represents a new beginning in the battle to restore the water quality in the Long Island Sound,” said Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment Adrienne Esposito. “This program is good for the environment, good for public health and good for the economy. We are excited that the County will be beginning this program and know the public will be anxious to participate.”

“We look forward to working with every level of government to continue getting additional grant money to the County,” said Kevin McDonald, Project Director for Public lands at the Nature Conservancy.

Nassau County residents and small businesses that discharge less than 1,000 gallons a day of wastewater are eligible for grants to install these new septic systems provisionally approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

Eligibility criteria includes: 

  • Residences must be single family, owner-occupied and a property owner’s primary residence. 
  • The residence/small business must be served by a septic system or cesspool and not connected to a sewer system or located within a proposed sewer district. 
  • Grant recipients may not be a current employee of Nassau County, an elected official of the State of New York or any political subdivision therein, or a party officer. 
  • Property does not have any outstanding or open real property tax liens. 
  • There must be a valid certificate of occupancy (CO) or equivalent. Income verification (provide a copy of each property

Qualifying residents should can contact SepticReplace@nassaucountyny.gov or 516-364-5861 for more information and instructions on how to apply. Beginning May 3rd, applications can be filled out online at NassauCountyNY.gov/SepticReplace

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