Improved Septic Systems

The East Hampton Village Board is considering a village-wide mandate that would require new advanced wastewater treatment systems for all new construction or substantial expansions of homes and business.

At a recent village board work session, Nature Conservancy project manager Kevin McDonald described the older model septic systems to be little more than a “slight improvement over Roman technology.”

Municipalities across Suffolk County have begun to address the issue of traditional septic systems, which contaminate ground and surface waters through the leaching of nitrates. Elevated nitrate levels, in turn, result in dangerous algal blooms that kill fish and shellfish.

As it currently stands, updating a septic system is a voluntary option for village building owners. However, McDonald stated that the county is looking for a way to issue emergency permits that would give building owners permission to improve their septic system within one day of applying to the county health department. Village Trustee Rose Brown said she was eager to include failing septic systems into the law’s scope, but county officials have stated that expediting permits for failed system owners would not be available in the near future.

The village board scheduled a public hearing for January 18 at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street to discuss the proposal.

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