NESCONSET - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed a new law Wednesday allowing a Health Department program that aims to replace aging cesspool systems countywide.
The bill will allow the new nitrogen filtration systems, which were used during a pilot program at 39 homes, to be authorized for use on commercial and residential properties by the fall.
The county says the bill is part of the Reclaim Our Water Initiative, which calls to eliminate the region's nitrogen pollution crisis through the implementation of advanced on-site wastewater treatment systems and means of sewering in targeted areas.
Many neighborhoods on the North Shore and South Shore are unsewered. About 360,000 people have private cesspools and septic systems. Officials say that's more than the state of New Jersey.
Lori Barraud, of Mastic, was one of the homeowners who had the nitrogen filtration system during the pilot program. She says supports the initiative, but the roughly $15,000 price tag is another story.
"It's cost prohibitive," she told News 12 Long Island.
Environmentalist Dick Amper says while the new program is good news, the county must find a way to help residents pay for it.
"We need a funding source where government can subsidize the replacement of the systems," says Amper. "The replacement is going to go on for many, many years."
News 12 was told the county is working with the state to come up with an incentive program to help residents cover the cost of the systems.