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Sep 8, 2017 6:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program's First New System Installed In Flanders

Home owner Anthony Hobson.
Sep 11, 2017 12:42 PM

Construction workers in muddy jeans and politicians in crisp suits mingled in the dirt as the first homeowner-installed advanced septic system to take advantage of the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program was put into the ground at the Hobson residence in Flanders.

On Thursday, September 7, Anthony Hobson, an architect for SLR Architecture in Bridgehampton, his wife, Alejandra, and their 16-month-old baby, Amelie, became the proud new owners of a state-of-the-art, environmentally sound septic system—for free. With $11,000 from Suffolk County’s initiative and $15,000 from Southampton Town’s parallel program, funded by a portion of the town’s Community Preservation Fund revenues, Mr. Hobson got his system completely subsidized.

“This house is from 1931,” said Mr. Hobson on Thursday. “I just had a cesspool, and I live next to the bay. I have a 16-month-old child, and I’m a local boy, born and raised in Southampton. So water’s everything to us.

“I needed a new system—it was on the verge of collapsing,” he said of his old cesspool. “I saw an article on and just had to do it.”

He added that the installation, which started at 8 a.m., would be complete by the end of the day.

He also shared that the grant comes with a three-year maintenance plan entailing check-ups once every six months.

According to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, so far 530 people have applied for the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program grants, 140 applications have been completed, and 80 grants have been issued.

“The success of this program is probably going to indicate that we need a more robust and ongoing funding source,” said Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming of Noyac.

“It has been proposed that we look at a fee system,” she added. “I think that the water supply is a good place to start. That has the effect of incentivizing water conservation as well as funding a program like this, so water hogs will be more mindful of their practices, because they have higher fees.”

She also noted that along with Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island towns both have CPF programs to further alleviate the cost of the systems. Voters last year approved the use of a portion of CPF revenues each year for water quality improvement.

The program has the support of environmental groups who see the new installations as crucial to reducing nitrogen leaks into groundwater and ultimately, the bays.

“It’s one small step for the homeowner, and one giant step for the protection of water quality on our island,” said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Farmingdale.

“The idea here is to have active systems that take out nitrogen,” added State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor. “Nitrogen is enemy number one for the water quality. It contributes to algal blooms and takes oxygen out of the water, too. It’s bad for the habitats, bad for the shellfish.”

Though more extensive funding sources are yet to be established and likely to be needed, at this first groundbreaking, all those gathered felt confident that this was the first step to reclaiming Suffolk County’s water from its current state of crisis.

“Today is the beginning of a safer, cleaner, more sustainable island,” Ms. Esposito said.

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$26,000.00 for a septic system for a small house. Great for Mr Hobson but somehow I can't help but feel the taxpayers are getting screwed.
By bird (687), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 17 9:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
It's good that the island is starting to notice and try to do something about the harmful algae blooms that are killing our bays and oceans, but I get the impression that the septic systems are a drop in the bucket when compared to amount of nitrogen added to the water via lawn fertilizers. This program will certainly be a boom for the septic industry and all affiliated with it, but I don't think it'll stop the blooms. Golf courses and the giant green lawns out here will continue to fill out waterways ...more
By milkdilk (46), Southampton on Sep 10, 17 11:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
You get an all together different kind of cancer from all those giant plastic vats buried underground. Just wait for those class action law suits to happen.
By pw herman (930), southampton on Sep 10, 17 4:33 PM
Would like to know more about the system. Is there a web site???
By knitter (1203), Southampton on Sep 10, 17 6:45 PM
This is typical, lets screw the homeowner, mentality of government. Criminal. Hold on to your wallets. This is a planned, agenda driven, self pontificating job by our government. Run of this island as fast as you can.
By The Real World (347), southampton on Sep 10, 17 8:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bridget Fleming talks about a fee system. That is politician speak for open your wallet dummies.
By dnice (2332), Hampton Bays on Sep 10, 17 11:48 PM
It's Fleming who is the dummy.
By pw herman (930), southampton on Sep 11, 17 9:34 AM
Nothing is "free" in this world. Someone else is paying for it.
By lirider (205), Hampton Bays on Sep 11, 17 9:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Just remember that our new golf course in East Quogue will be good for taking Nitrogen out of our environment. They have a special new magical system.
By dfree (460), hampton bays on Sep 11, 17 11:07 AM
Why am I paying for someone else's septic? This bankrupt Suffolk govt needs to stop spending
By chief1 (2434), southampton on Sep 11, 17 5:40 PM
Great Beginnings
By Bobt (26), WHB on Sep 13, 17 1:05 PM
Farrell Building, Farrell Commercial, We're Hiring