North Haven May Consider Septic Upgrade Law

North Haven Village sign

By Stephen J. Kotz

North Haven Village Mayor Jeff Sander at a brief village board meeting on Tuesday, suggested that the village might follow on the heels of East Hampton Town, which last week unveiled a proposed law to require new state-of-the-art septic systems in the construction of new houses.

The town is considering the law, which would also create a rebate program for existing property owners to upgrade their waste treatment systems, as it moves aggressively to combat the growing problem of water degradation. Southampton Town is working on similar legislation.

The rebate program and other water quality projects would be underwritten by money from each town’s Community Preservation Fund. In November, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum allowing up to 20 percent money collected by the funds each year to be used for water quality projects.

“I’ve always been interested in this because North Haven is surrounded by water,” Mr. Sander told the board. He suggested that the village should consider adopting its own septic upgrade law and start by prioritizing waterfront properties “as a first step” before moving inland.

“You look at the size and cost of homes being built on the water, $15,000, $20,000, $25,000 for an advanced system is not going to be a burden on those properties,” he said.

He said he would ask village attorney Anthony Tohill to look into drafting legislation once the village gets a better handle on what it wants to pursue. “We should get some more information about it. Get some experts in,” the mayor added.

The mayor then asked Trustee David Saskas, who runs a surveying company in East Hampton what he thought of the new wastewater treatment systems being approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and he offered a mixed assessment based on his limited experience with the new systems.

“I’ve only heard about it from people trying to sell it, so you always get an optimistic viewpoint,” Mr. Saskas said.

The newer systems typically require a little more space, but more importantly, they have to be maintained because they require live bacteria being fed a steady diet of sewage.

“Sometimes it’s hard to implement a maintenance program on houses that are only occupied one or two months a year,” he said. “It has a lot to do with live bacteria in the system. And you need to feed it because when it doesn’t get fed it doesn’t survive.”

He said it typically takes about a month “to kick-start” a system to begin operating efficiently, and for houses that are only occupied in the summer, once the system is working properly the house is closed for the season.

The board also agreed to meet at 4 p.m. on March 21 to begin work on the 2017-18 budget. The board agreed it would likely set a second workshop to complete work on the spending plan before scheduling a public hearing in April. The board also set a June 20 date for the annual village election.