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This brand new septic tank is being installed for a watershed homeowner using City funding provided through the Septic Rehabilitation and Replacement Program administered by the CWC.

Septic Systems

Septic systems are used to treat wastewater from homes and small businesses—primarily in rural and suburban areas—that aren’t served by sewer systems and treatment plants. In a properly functioning septic system, pollutant concentrations found in raw sewage are reduced through biological processes that occur in a septic tank, where solid materials settle out and the remaining liquid passes through. Upon leaving the septic tank, the liquid is dispersed through a soil absorption field where further treatment takes place. Very old and/or failing septic systems threaten both groundwater and surface water by releasing untreated or ineffectively treated wastewater into the ground or, even worse, directly into a watercourse.

Unlike the older and more suburbanized Croton Watershed (East of Hudson) where many communities already have sewers and wastewater treatment plants, the Catskill/Delaware Watershed (West of Hudson) is primarily rural with large tracts of undeveloped land separating many residences. It is estimated that approximately 22,000 residential septic systems are currently being used throughout the Catskill/Delaware Watershed—this represents a potential risk to water quality should large numbers of these systems begin to fail due to old age, poor design or construction, or lack of homeowner maintenance.

DEP partners with the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) to fund and implement a series of programs designed to help homeowners protect water quality from septic system contamination. The CWC is a regional not-for-profit corporation established pursuant to the 1997 Watershed Agreement to administer water quality protection and economic development programs in the Catskill/Delaware (West of Hudson) Watershed.

Septic System Rehabilitation and Replacement Program (West of Hudson)

Since 1997, DEP has committed over $84 million in funding for the Septic System Rehabilitation and Replacement Program administered by the CWC. Program funds are used to repair or replace septic systems serving one- or two-family homes in priority areas of the West of Hudson Watershed.

Eligible costs for septic program funding include septic inspections, one-time septic tank pump-outs, replacement or upgrades of failing systems, and education and outreach. CWC staff conduct initial site visits and septic inspections as well as more detailed system inspections where necessary. Septic systems that are found to be failing or substandard and likely to fail are either repaired or replaced. CWC pays 100% of eligible costs for primary residence septic systems and 60% of eligible costs for second home systems.

Through 2012, the CWC Septic Rehabilitation and Replacement Program has funded the repair or replacement of more than 4,050 failing or likely-to-fail septic systems.

For specific information regarding program rules, project eligibility, application forms, and project selection, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.

Cluster Septic System Program (West of Hudson)

The Cluster Septic System Program is administered by the CWC using $2 million in funding provided by DEP. This program funds the planning, design, and construction of cluster septic systems in small population centers or hamlets where individual onsite septic systems are not practical because of small lot sizes. Eligible hamlets have failing septic systems in areas characterized by small lots that are in close proximity and located near watercourses.

For specific information regarding program rules, project eligibility, application forms, and project selection, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.

Small Business Septic System Program (West of Hudson)

The CWC administers the $4 million Small Business Septic System Program that helps pay for the repair or replacement of failed septic systems serving small businesses (those employing 100 or fewer people) in the West of Hudson Watershed. Eligible small business owners may be reimbursed 75% of the cost of septic repairs, up to a maximum of $40,000.

For specific information regarding program rules, project eligibility, application forms, and project selection, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.

Septic System Maintenance Program (West of Hudson)

The CWC Septic System Maintenance Program is a voluntary reimbursement program intended to reduce the occurrence of septic system failures through regular septic tank pump-outs and system maintenance. DEP has provided $1.5 million in funding for this program that is open to West of Hudson Watershed homeowners who installed or replaced septic systems after January 1, 1997 and whose septic tanks have not been previously pumped for at least three years.

Proper and routine septic system maintenance is vital for protecting water quality and prolonging the life of the system itself. While the cost of repairing or replacing a septic system can be very expensive, the effort and expense of routine maintenance is minimal. The key to avoiding septic failure is periodic pumping of the septic tank. Without regular pumping, sludge and scum layers become too thick and solid materials can flow from the septic tank into the soil absorption field, clogging the pipes and causing the system to fail.

For specific information regarding program rules, project eligibility, application forms, and project selection, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.

Kensico Septic System Rehabilitation Reimbursement Program (East of Hudson)

The Kensico Reservoir, located in Westchester County, is the terminal reservoir for Catskill/Delaware water before it enters the City’s distribution system. For this reason, the watershed surrounding the Kensico Reservoir requires the highest level of water quality protection, with failing septic systems representing a potential water quality threat.

DEP partners with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to fund and implement the Kensico Septic System Rehabilitation Reimbursement Program that reimburses eligible homeowners up to 50% of the costs for repairing or remediating failing septic systems, or to connect their septic systems to an existing sewage collection system. Ongoing operation and maintenance of the septic system and/or payment of sewer rates and fees remain the responsibility of the homeowner.

To determine eligibility or receive additional information about program rules and restrictions, New York State residents should call the EFC at 1-800-882-9721. Unfortunately, this program is not available to watershed residents who live outside New York State.

Reservoir Levels

Current: 71.1%

Normal: 72.9%