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Civic association plans webinar on new septic systems

Starting in July, Suffolk County homeowners who build — or substantially renovate — their homes will be required to install innovative-alternative septic systems.

The amendment to the sanitary code, which was approved in October, aims to reduce nitrogen pollution that officials say have caused harmful algal blooms, fish kills, beach closures and a decline in the shellfishing industry over time.

Before the law takes effect, the Mattituck Laurel Civic Association is planning to hold a virtual presentation on the new I/A systems on Monday, May 17.

Members of the North Shore Land Alliance and the Nature Conservancy will be joined by Southold Town officials and local experts, including Peconic Green Growth, for the presentation and Q&A.

“It’s important that we tackle this issue now, because the longer we wait the worse it’s going to get and the more expensive it’ll be down the road,” said Katherine Coughlin, a water quality improvement coordinator for the North Shore Land Alliance.

Ms. Coughlin, an environmental engineer, has a wealth of experience with the technical permitting process and construction for the I/A systems and said she works with homeowners and small business owners from start to finish through the installation process and exploring grant funding options.

For many residents, replacing a septic system with clean water technology is prohibitively expensive, but Suffolk County residents may be eligible for state and county grants of up to $30,000.

While costs vary on a case-by-case basis, county officials have estimated the average cost for the systems to be approximately $21,900. The new systems also require yearly maintenance costs.

The hour-long presentation is free and open to the public. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and can be accessed via Zoom.