Members of the new Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board have reviewed new septic systems Suffolk County has approved for installation.
Beginning in August, the county will require builders of new homes to install one of the new systems. The next county requirement will be upgrades to systems where planned construction will increase house size by 50 percent or more.
Of course, Shelter Island can opt to set higher standards, reaching for installation of more systems each year, Town Engineer John Cronin said.
At the June 15 Water Quality Board meeting, Bob Eichinger, advanced wastewater treatment specialist for Bay Shore’s Roman Stone Construction, provided an insight of considerations taking place at the county level where officials are determined to have at least 200 systems per year installed. County Executive Steve Bellone has said he wants at least 500 new systems in Suffolk each year.
Still undetermined is how much grant money will be provided by the county or the town to offset costs of equipment and installation.
But what’s important for residents, Town Engineer John Cronin said, is realizing the water they drink from wells comes from the same aquifer that is absorbing sewage.
Mr. Eichinger said county legislators want to spread the money to towns and villages throughout Suffolk likely located in the most vulnerable areas where septic discharges empty into Peconic Bay.
Mr. Cronin said on the Island that could be in the Near Shore Peninsula District.
Locally, there’s $440,000 available from Community Preservation Funds likely to be allocated for grants. The Water Quality Board is still working out details of the application process and recommendations how the money is to be allocated here. The Water Quality Board is recommending to the Town Board that applicants receiving grants should be from all areas of the Island to avoid favoring any one section.
Costs for new systems range from $6,000 to $8,000 for the “Singulair” system that would serve houses with four to five bedrooms, according to Mr. Eichinger. The more expensive “Hydro-Kinetic” system would be right for larger house and cost from $10,000 to $17,850, plus another $4,000 to $5,000 for installation.
The systems Mr. Eichinger discussed are designed to lower nitrogen content in the water, a main culprit in contaminating water here. But future testing will be looking at prescription medicines that contaminate water.
In a community with a large percentage of seniors, many of whom take prescription medicines, it’s considered important to deal with that factor, Mr. Eichinger said.
The Water Quality Board continues its work on June 29 with a 6 p.m. meeting at Town Hall.