New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $15 million has been appropriated for 31 counties across the state for septic system replacement rebate programs. Suffolk County received $10 million of the $15 million total, or 66.8 percent of all the funds appropriated statewide.
“This state commitment to Suffolk County demonstrates that our local foresight and cutting-edge commitment to water quality is being rewarded by the state. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to water quality,” said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.
In 2016, Thiele sponsored two major initiatives to improve water quality on Eastern Long Island. Each of Suffolk County’s five towns has committed to septic upgrade programs to limit the flow of nitrogen into local waterways.
Thiele initiated the 20/20 amendment to the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund, which extended the two percent CPF transfer tax for 20 more years, and permitted up to 20 percent of the CPF to be utilized for water quality improvement projects.
East End voters in all five towns overwhelming approved the plan.
East Hampton and Southampton towns then became the first towns in the state to establish septic rebate programs to improve water quality.
Suffolk County also devoted $2 million to septic replacement.
“This must be the first step to reverse decades of declining water quality trends. We must be committed to long term, reliable funding to water quality if we are to conserve the one resource that is essential to both our environment and economy: clean water,” Thiele said.
“Protecting water quality is vital to the health and future growth of our communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program builds on this administration’s efforts to upgrade and improve water infrastructure across the state and help protect New York’s lakes, streams, and other environmental resources.”
The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, championed by Governor Cuomo and the state legislature, established the State Septic System Replacement Fund and allocated $75 million to support the multi-year effort.
The program provides resources to counties to support the replacement of aging septic systems and other wastewater infrastructure that can harm water quality by releasing pathogens or nutrient pollution such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Through this program, the state will provide funds to counties to reimburse eligible property owners for a portion of the cost of replacing failing septic systems and installing more environmentally effective systems. Eligible property owners can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of eligible costs up to $10,000. Counties may also set graduated incentive reimbursement rates for septic system projects to maximize program participation and pollution reduction goals.
“Replacing outdated infrastructure safeguards public health from compromised and failing systems. Governor Cuomo’s State Septic System Replacement Fund will allow targeted areas statewide to begin upgrades aimed at protecting New York’s beautiful water bodies and ensuring continued access to clean drinking water,” said NYS Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.