By Emily Toy
Southampton Town's Septic System Rebate and Incentive Program got a major boost last week when the town board unanimously adopted new legislation to award the program with $100,000.
The initiative, contemplated as part of the Water Quality Protection Fund, is the first of its kind in Suffolk County, according to a press release from the town distributed last Friday.
Earlier in the year, the town board initially funded the rebate program with $50,000, geared toward upgrading and replacing inadequate sanitary systems within the town, particularly those installed before the 1980s, that are leeching nitrogen into local waters. The pilot program was deemed a success and due to current budgetary funding available to transfer from unallocated insurance funds, the Water Quality Protection Fund will continue to reap the benefits. Last Thursday's work session found Comptroller Len Marchese, Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray, and Chief Environmental Analyst Marty Shea discussing funding for the WQPF.
Much like the program's first go-round, the $100,000 will be distributed on a first come first serve basis. Those who applied for funding when the program was first introduced but were not able to receive the incentive because the $50,000 was used up (which happened in a matter of weeks), will be first on the list to get money.
"The original funding depleted after only a few weeks, proving that homeowners are willing, even eager, to upgrade, if offered an incentive to do so," said Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who's spearheaded the program.
The septic rebate legislation allows for residents to receive up to 50 percent of the cost of the upgrade, and up to 60 percent to those who reside in critical watershed areas within 200 feet of a body of water. Studies show installing a septic system can cost anywhere from $4000 to $14,000.
"While ultimately, I believe a regional approach is what is going to be needed to address this critical issue," Scalera said, "with what I hope will be attendant funding opportunities, I believe fiscally responsible appropriations as done thus far on the part of the town are warranted in the interim."
Residents interested in applying for the rebate program can pick up applications in the Building Department in Town Hall.