Nineteen Suffolk homeowners will be selected to receive free advanced wastewater treatment systems in a lottery announced last week by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone .

The lottery winners will receive free installation — including monitoring and maintenance for five years — of systems designed to greatly reduce nitrogen contamination of groundwater and surface waters, Bellone announced at a press conference in Yaphank on Wednesday.

The lottery is part of the county’s state-of-the-art septic demonstration pilot program, Bellone said.

The pilot program is part of the county’s “Reclaim Our Water” initiative, a comprehensive plan to eradicate nitrogen pollution by sewering targeted areas and implementing advanced on-site wastewater treatment systems.

Applications may be made online at the county’s website; the filing deadline is Nov. 14.

After a thorough screening process, a random drawing will be conducted to select the 19 qualified homeowners.

“Suffolk County has more than 360,000 unsewered homes, creating excess and unhealthy amounts of nitrogen in the ground due to failing, unmaintained and excessive loadings from septic systems and cesspools,” Bellone said. “Advanced wastewater treatment systems for homeowners are a vital part of the solution to our water quality crisis. While this is not the single solution, this is one of the initiatives we are doing to reclaim our water here in Suffolk County.”

The program will help to create a homeowner awareness program to provide residents information on proper septic system maintenance protocols in an effort to reduce nitrogen levels.

Legislator Al Krupski said he is “surprised and gratified to see this forward thinking in my lifetime.” It brings wastewater treatment in Suffolk County “into the modern era,” Krupski said.

The 19 systems were donated by four national manufacturers: BUSSE Green Technologies, Norweco, Orenco Systems and Hydro-Action Industries, Bellone said. All four have extensive experience across the country, as well as in Europe, in removing excess nitrogen from residential and commercial properties, he said.

The advanced wastewater treatment systems are valued at up to $15,000 per system. The average annual cost of a maintenance contract for these systems is $200 to $400, according to a septic demonstration program FAQ posted on the county’s website.

The firms will also work with county officials and its Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs throughout the process to develop an extensive job training program to bring more septic and wastewater-oriented employment opportunities to Suffolk.

Representatives from the advanced waste water septic companies participating in residential lottery program, Glynis Berry, Peconic Green Growth, Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator Al Krupski

The majority of the advanced wastewater treatment systems were observed by county experts on a tour of septic programs conducted in other states in the Northeast. The county is modeling its homeowner education program on the very successful program that has been in place in Rhode Island over the past fifteen years. For more information on Suffolk County’s septic demonstration program, as well as the detailed report on its septic tour, visit the county’s website.


Photo caption (top): Glynis Berry, left, of Peconic Green Growth, Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Legislator Al Krupski, far right, listen as County Executive Steve Bellone announces the lottery at an Oct. 15 press conference at a Yaphank home construction site. (Courtesy photo)

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