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Dec 10, 2018 12:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Village May Require Advanced Septic Systems For New Homes, Some Expansions

East Hampton Village Board Members, Arthur S. Graham, Barbara S. Borsack, Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. and Richard Lawler.  ELIZABETH VESPE
Dec 10, 2018 12:56 PM

New homes and expansions in East Hampton Village may be required to include technologically advanced septic systems.

The East Hampton Village Board proposed an amendment to the village code at Thursday’s work session that would require upgraded septic systems for new construction and large-scale extensions.

“The intent is to protect and preserve the village’s natural resources and water supply, and promote public health and safety,” June Lester, secretary to Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., read aloud from the proposed amendment,

East Hampton Town and Southampton Town have already mandated the installation of nitrogen-reducing septic systems for new residential projects and significant alterations, as well as for failing septic systems. Quogue Village adopted its own nitrogen-reducing septic system mandate in March of 2018.

At Thursday’s work session, Billy Hajek, a planner for East Hampton Village, said that the amendment would require the installation of innovative and alternative wastewater treatment systems for new single-family residences, and for expansions of residences that increase the floor area by 25 percent or more, as well as any construction that increases the number of bedrooms in a home.

Larry Cantwell, a former East Hampton Town supervisor and former East Hampton Village administrator, spoke in favor of the new requirement at Thursday’s meeting. In some ways, Mr. Cantwell said, the proposed village law is stronger than the one already adopted by East Hampton Town. The town’s code requires upgraded septic systems at 50 percent expansion, while the village is proposing to have the requirement kick in at 25 percent.

Mr. Cantwell noted, however, that under the proposed village law, homeowners would be able to replace existing septic systems without being required to do so with the newest technology.

“Anyone who is replacing a septic system should be required to replace it with the best technology that we currently have available,” he stressed, adding that the law “should include those property owners who are replacing their systems for reasons other than a new house or expansion.”

To a large extent, the upgrades will be paid for by town and county programs that are already in place, Mr. Cantwell said. He encouraged the village to move forward on the legislation.

High nitrogen levels from residential septic systems are one of the main causes of toxic algae blooms in local water bodies, according to Kevin McDonald of the Nature Conservancy, who also spoke at Thursday’s work session. In East Hampton many of the current residential septic systems, which can leak into groundwater, were installed more than 40 years ago, Mr. McDonald said.

He said that the waste from septic systems has resulted in a number of different nutrient loads into a number of freshwater and marine systems that are responsible for blue-green algae, blue tides, red tides and other water quality problems. It’s no surprise that the village has been seeing increasing nitrogen in Georgica Pond and Hook Pond, he said. “We have a problem—it caught up with us, and now we have to do something about it.”

Mr. McDonald added: “Reducing the nitrogen reduces the toxicity of algae blooms.” At the county level, low- to medium-income homeowners could be granted $20,000 for new septic upgrades, according to Mr. McDonald. “That makes it a lot easier for anyone with a failed system or a system that needs to be replaced,” he said.

Mr. Rickenbach noted that there are water quality problems across Long Island. “The village of East Hampton is micro in the macro picture,” he said. “We want to be at the forefront as it relates to turning around the quality of water in the footprint of our jurisdiction.”

“This is a first step,” added board member Arthur Graham. “There are other projects that are on the way that will also improve water quality.”

Mr. Rickenbach said that a public hearing will be held in the near future on the proposed amendment.

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How much funding does Kevin McDonald's 'charity' receive from the companies directly benefitting from these regulations? How much does he make as head of that 'non-profit'?
By MoronEliminator (214), Montauk on Dec 11, 18 9:36 AM
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