A Hydro-Action advanced wastewater treatment system.

Homeowners in Suffolk will be eligible for a grant of up to $11,000 from the county’s assessment stabilization reserve fund to defray the cost of replacing old cesspools or septic systems with one of the new advanced on-site treatment systems.

In addition, homeowners can qualify to finance the remaining cost of the systems over 15 years at a 3-percent fixed interest rate.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the incentive program yesterday in Hauppauge.

Total accessible funds available for the first year of the program are $2 million, Bellone said. Each subsequent year through 2021 will be funded with $2 million from the Suffolk County Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund.

Funding for the grant-based program was made possible as a result of approval by Suffolk County voters of a 2014 referendum that authorized use of funding for nitrogen reducing septic systems.

The loan program will be administered by CDCLI Funding Corp, with financial support from Bridgehampton National Bank in the amount $1 million and financial commitments from several philanthropic foundations, according to the county executive.

The program is scheduled to launch on July 1, 2017 through an application process.

The new wastewater systems, which have just recently been approved for residential use by the county health department, employ technologies designed to significantly reduce nitrogen pollution of groundwater. But the systems are expensive and elected officials are not inclined to mandate their replacement because of the financial burden that would impose on homeowners.

More than 360,000 homes in Suffolk rely on outdated cesspools and septic systems that do not treat wastewater to remove nitrogen, according to the county.

Studies show that declining water quality that has closed beaches, caused brown tides and fish kills is cause by excess nitrogen, and that cesspools and septics are the largest source of nitrogen pollution, Bellone said.

“Today we are taking a huge leap forward in our effort to protect water quality in our county,” Bellone said.

“This new grant and loan program is exactly what is needed to take our hard work to reverse decades of nitrogen pollution to the next level.”

The county executive thanked CDCLI Funding Corporation for administering the program and Bridgehampton National Bank for helping to fund the loan program.

BNB president and CEO Kevin O’Connor said the bank is proud to partner with the county and CDLI Funding.

“As a community bank headquartered on Long Island, Bridgehampton National Bank has a rich tradition of involvement in our local villages and towns,” O’Connor said. “We believe in supporting the organizations that are improving the quality of life for those who live and work here.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.