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Help Navigating Septic Grants

Tue, 03/07/2023 - 10:30
Tom Varley is the new watershed manager serving homeowners in the Georgica Pond and Sagg Pond watersheds.
Courtesy Tom Varley

In a move expected to accelerate the installation of innovative/alternative septic systems in critical South Fork areas, the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University and the Peconic Land Trust have partnered to bring in a new watershed manager focusing on the areas surrounding Georgica Pond and Sagg Pond in Sagaponack.

Tom Varley has spent the last 40 years overseeing and maintaining wastewater treatment plants — including some that process as much as 30 million gallons each day — throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, according to an announcement from the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation.

A lifelong Long Islander, Mr. Varley has seen the effects of hypoxia — a condition in which oxygen levels in water bodies are too low to sustain their ecosystems — in places like Hempstead Harbor.

"I can help people understand the types of systems that are out there and how they work," he said this week. "I can also walk them through the whole application process with the county, and town grants in East Hampton and Southampton that are separate from the county. Some people just want some information and can move forward on their own; others would like a little more guidance each step of the way."

Between town, county, and state grants, Mr. Varley explained, eligible homeowners can receive as much as $40,000 toward the cost of their innovative/alternative septic system installations. The county pays contractors directly, while other grant sources come in the form of reimbursements. The Internal Revenue Service recently declassified these grants as taxable income.

Mr. Varley is available as a resource free of charge to homeowners in the Georgica Pond and Sagg Pond watersheds. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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