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 shellfishing, toxic algae blooms, and massive fish kills. A conventional onsite septic system was never designed to remove nitrogen. The average residential septic system discharges approximately 40 pounds of nitrogen per year. For homeowners close to surface waters in Suffolk County nitrogen can rapidly reach surface waters where it contributes to degradation of our marshes, bays, and beaches. Even inland, nitrogen from septic systems will eventually reach the groundwater and surface waters.
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 that remove nitrogen to protect water quality 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 $11,000 — inclusive of installing a pressurized shallow drain field — 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. 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.
*Note: The average total cost for approved systems, including attendant engineering and design services, is approximately $19,200. Costs will vary on a case-by-case basis. Please review our documents detailing the estimated engineering costs, estimated vendor costs, and costs associated with owning an I/A OWTS.
In order for an application to be considered for a grant the following preliminary criteria must be met:
Grant assistance is based upon the following Income Criteria:
Please note that in order to complete the application process, you will be required to submit the following documents:
To see a map of Priority Areas, click here.
Applications will be received, scored, and ranked in the following order of priority:
For more information on the Septic Improvement Program, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Suffolk County Department of Health Services at (631) 852-5811
YouTube Video on Septic Improvement Program
Septic Improvement Program FAQ
Overview of Provisionally Approved Technologies
Rules and Regulations
Map of Priority Areas
Understanding the Grant Process
Frequently Asked Questions
I/A Vendor Cost Ranking
I/A OWTS Design Cost Ranking
Cost Associated with Owning an I/A OWTS
Community Development Corporation of Long Island
Low Interest Loan Information
Checklist for a Residential Application
Application for a New Single Family Residence
Application for an Addition or Renovation to an Existing Single-Family Residence
Instructions for obtaining Final Approval
Application for an Accessory Apartment
I/A OWTS Registration Form