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Jan 8, 2019 11:37 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Bills Allow CPF To Be Used For Water Main Extensions And Septic System Loans

Jan 8, 2019 2:25 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills this month that expand the ways that Community Preservation Fund revenues can be used to improve water quality.

In 2016, East End residents voted to permit 20 percent of the CPF money to go toward water quality improvements. But whether the money should be used for sewer projects, designed to improve groundwater quality by reducing pollution, or also could be used for water main extensions, to replace wells contaminated by that pollution, remained unclear.

Both bills were sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, and aimed to clear up the confusion.

The first bill allows CPF money to be used for water main extensions in areas such as Wainscott and East Quogue, where private drinking wells were found to be contaminated by perfluorinated compounds, or PFOA and PFOS, which have been deemed toxic by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The law permits the CPF to be used to pay for the construction and connection of water mains for those whose water supply is contaminated by hazardous substances, toxic chemicals or emerging contaminants.

“With growing threats to our water supply in the Peconic Bay region, we must do everything possible to protect and ensure the quality of our drinking water,” Mr. LaValle said in a prepared statement. “This legislation gives localities the ability to participate in providing clean, healthy water to areas impacted by emerging contaminants and gives access to needed funds for clean water initiatives.”

Such water initiatives may include helping people install nitrogen-reducing septic systems through a loan.

The lawmakers’ second piece of legislation allows towns on the East End to set up loan programs for homeowners to replace septic systems utilizing CPF revenues.

But the loan programs set up by each town will have certain requirements. For example, the new septic system that the loan pays for must be approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health. And, under the CPF, the property where the septic system is being installed must be in an environmental priority area set up by the town. Additionally, loans cannot be for more than a 10-year period, nor can they be for more than the cost of the project.

The bill also states that a loan can be paid back through property taxes and put back into the CPF.

“By utilizing CPF revenues to match state grants, we can bring public water to contaminated neighborhoods without delay,” Mr. Thiele said in a prepared statement. “In addition, combining grants with loans for upgraded septic systems and permitting the loans to be repaid over a 10-year period on the tax bill will encourage more property owners to take the initiative to upgrade their septic systems.”

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