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Looking to Quit Cesspools

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 10:12

The East Hampton Town Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee made grant recommendations for high-impact improvement projects in Sag Harbor and Amagansett to the town board on Tuesday, the committee’s second round of recommendations for 2022.

The twice-yearly grants use money from the portion of the community preservation fund allocated to water quality improvements. Around $1.4 million is available in this round, Mellissa Winslow, a senior environmental analyst in the town’s Natural Resources Department, told the board.

New to the committee’s scoring system for applications is an educational and outreach component, Ms. Winslow said.

Following an Aug. 31 meeting to review applications, two of five were deemed eligible and complete. By far the larger of the committee’s recommendations, and the largest to date in the committee’s request-for-applications program, is a grant of just over $1 million to Sag Harbor Village for an expansion of its existing sewage treatment plant, which Ms. Winslow said would remove 33 properties from conventional cesspools in East Hampton. Four of the 33 properties are commercial.

In the village’s separate application to Southampton Town, an additional seven properties within that municipality would be added to the sewer service area.

The sewershed is located within the Water Protection District of Sag Harbor Bay within the Peconic Estuary. The project would have a significant positive impact by removing a large number of conventional cesspools and accessing improved treatment at the sewage treatment plant. Should it come to fruition, it would result in an estimated annual reduction of 2,234 pounds of nitrogen entering the waterway, Ms. Winslow said.

The project’s total cost on the East Hampton side is $6.84 million. Expected grants from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County would yield around $5.2 million, she said, and the village is requesting $1,648,359 toward the total.

The project can be split into two phases, Ms. Winslow said: street right-of-way sewage pipes, followed by pipes to the street from individual properties. The committee recommended a grant of $1,002,523 to pay for the first phase, which would satisfy a requirement for local matching funds in order to obtain the state and county grants. Funding for the second phase could be considered in a 2023 application, she said.

The project’s benefit for the next 100 years would be felt by everyone who uses and cares about the waterways, said Aidan Corish of the Sag Harbor Village Board, who called in to the meeting.

The committee’s second recommendation was for Gansett Snuggery, encompassing two commercial structures on the parcel at 249 Main Street in Amagansett. This project would have an upgrade of an undersized, conventional commercial septic system to an innovative-alternative system that would serve both structures. The expected reduction in nitrogen to groundwater is 57 pounds per year, Ms. Winslow said.

As it would be for a commercial property outside a water protection district, the project is eligible for 50 percent of installation costs (engineering and consulting costs are not eligible). The property owner requested $26,600 of the total project cost of $53,250. The committee recommended an award of $23,750, or half of the eligible installation cost.

Board members were generally supportive of the recommendations, particularly that for Sag Harbor Village.

Applications by Hero Beach Club in Montauk for an innovative-alternative septic system installation, the Ninevah Beach Property Owners Association in Sag Harbor for green infrastructure projects, and the Peconic Land Trust for a Georgica Pond groundwater nitrogen remediation project were deemed ineligible or needing additional detail or modifications.

An estimated $2 million will be available in the first round of the committee’s 2023 request for applications, Ms. Winslow said, which will be due in February.

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