Southampton Town will expand an incentive program for residents who want to update outdated septic systems, increasing the maximum rebate available and widening the pool of eligible candidates.
The new advanced systems treat wastewater on-site and reduce the amount of nitrogen discharged into the groundwater. They cost on average $19,200 to install, according to Suffolk County, though the price can run higher. That’s about double a traditional waste-disposal system that does little to limit nitrogen, a major cause of algal blooms and other harmful impacts.
Southampton’s incentive program, approved by the town board in August 2017, originally offered rebates up to $15,000 for households with incomes up to $500,000. The town board voted 4-0 on Tuesday on several amendments, including raising the maximum rebate to $20,000 and offering the incentive to those with a higher income.
A property owner who makes between $500,001 and $1 million per year is now eligible for a $20,000 grant or 25 percent of the project’s cost, whichever is less.
“There have been inquiries from people with larger homes on Dune Road," said Councilman John Bouvier, the liaison to the town’s water quality program. "They felt some of the [cost] burden should be shared, and we agreed.”
Households with an income of less than $300,000 are eligible for 100 percent reimbursement, and those with incomes between $300,001 and $500,000 are eligible for 50 percent of the project cost.
The rebates are financed through the town’s Community Preservation Fund, which is funded through a 2 percent tax on most real estate transfers. An $11,000 Suffolk County grant is available to some homeowners as well.
Eleven property owners have received $154,884 in rebates since the program began in September, and 69 more have applications pending, according to Mary Wilson, Southampton’s Community Preservation Fund manager.
The town also amended its mandate to install an advanced system for all new construction as well as expansions of 25 percent or more in designated areas. The law now exempts a property owner converting existing space, such as a basement, into living space.