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State fund offers Suffolk and Nassau $11M for septic upgrades

An advanced septic system that removed nitrogen from

An advanced septic system that removed nitrogen from the water, is installled outside the home of Anthony Hobson, in Flanders on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

The state on Thursday announced a $75-million plan to help fund the replacement of aging septic systems and cesspools in an effort to improve water quality.

Fifteen million dollars will be available in the first year of the program, with the lion’s share of that going to Suffolk County, which is getting $10.025 million, and Nassau County, where $1 million is earmarked. Twenty nine upstate counties are divvying the remainder of the first year funding.

“Protecting water quality is vital to the health and future growth of our communities,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release announcing the program, aimed at curbing beach closures and harmful algal blooms.

The $75 million allocation was included in the state Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.

The program — involving the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation as well as the Environmental Facilities Corporation — will issue funds to counties to reimburse property owners for up to $10,000 related to the cost of replacing systems with ones that treat wastewater but also remove polluting nutrients.

On Long Island, the septic systems must reduce nitrogen by 30 percent but state officials said counties could set more stringent requirements.

Suffolk County launched a pilot program in 2014 to test residential treatment systems and has provisionally approved five technologies that reduce nitrogen, in some cases between 50 and 70 percent.

It also has a grant and low-cost loan program to encourage homeowners to replace cess pools with these advanced systems, which can cost between $13,000 and nearly $24,000 depending on the technology and design.

More than 110 systems have been installed or permitted for use in the county.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement the $10 million in funding “will allow the county to significantly expand our existing Septic Improvement Program, and accelerate our efforts to protect water quality.”

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