Reclaim Our Water Initiative

Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water Initiative

Septic Improvement Program

More detailed program information is available on our website www.reclaimourwater.info

Overview:

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 devised the Septic Improvement Program consisting of both a grant and low-interest financing program as the next logical piece of the Reclaim Our Water initiative.

Grant Eligibility Criteria:

In order for an application to be considered for a grant the following preliminary criteria must be met:

  • The residence must be single family, owner-occupied year round and a property owner’s primary residence. Seasonal homes and rental properties are not eligible for this grant program.
  • The residence must be served by a septic system or cesspool and not connected to a sewer system or located within a proposed sewer district.
  • Property may not be used as a rental property.
  • New construction is not eligible.
  • No home based business on the property or in the residence (“business” does not include a personal home office that does not require additional kitchen use or customer access).
  • Property owner(s) may not be a current employee of Suffolk County, an elected official of the State of New York or any political subdivision therein (e.g., elected official of town, village, county, etc.), 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 issued by the applicable town or village. Income verification (provide a copy of each property owner’s most recently filed federal income tax return).

Grant assistance is based upon the following Income Criteria:

  • Federal Adjusted Gross Income of a property owner(s) (married or single) who is less than or equal to $300,000/year is eligible for 100% of grant.
  • Federal Adjusted Gross Income of a property owner(s) (married or single) who is between $300,000/year - $500,000/year is eligible for 50% of grant.
  • Federal Adjusted Gross Income of a property owner(s) (married or single) $500,000 or more will not be eligible for a grant.

Please note that in order to complete the application process, you will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of property deed
  • Proof of Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Copy of most recent property tax bill
  • Copy of Certificate of Occupancy or equivalent The first two pages of property owner(s)’ latest year’s tax return along with signature page (Please be sure to redact your social security number) (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) If applicable: proof of sanitary system failure (photo, service receipts, etc.)

Priority Areas:

To see a map of Priority Areas, click here.

In accordance with the Program Rules & Regulations, applications will be received, scored, and ranked in the following order of priority:

A qualifying Residential Parcel located within the Priority Critical Areas (high and medium density residential parcels less than one acre located within the 0 – 2 year groundwater travel time to surface waters as defined in the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan or high or medium density residential parcels within 1,000 feet of enclosed water bodies in Suffolk County); A qualifying Residential Parcel located within Critical Areas (high and medium density residential parcels less than one acre located within the 2-25 year groundwater travel time to surface waters as defined in the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan); A qualifying Residential Parcel located outside of a Priority Critical Area or outside of a Critical Area.

Contact Information:

For more information on the Septic Improvement Program, please e-mail us at septicdemo@suffolkcountyny.gov or call Suffolk County Department of Health Services at (631) 852-5811. Staff will be available to answer questions Monday - Friday from 9am - 5pm.