PLATTSBURGH – Isle La Motte watershed property owners looking to replace, repair or upgrade their sewage treatment plants may be eligible for partial reimbursement of grants for their projects from the Clinton County Health Department.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) recently awarded the local authority $ 250,000 through the State Septic System Replacement Fund. The grants can cover up to 50 percent of the project cost, up to $ 10,000.
“The goals are essentially to replace faulty septic tanks and improve water quality for the priority water body,” said Ryan Davies, CCHD director of environmental health.
CCHD received USD 75,000 through the fund in 2018 to reimburse projects to improve the septic tank in primary residences on Upper Chateaugay Lake. In this round, Davies processed eleven applications, which were expanded to include some properties along Lake Champlain.
Since then, the program has also opened up to companies and seasonal homes.
For this final round, properties along the northern portion of Lake Champlain, from Cumberland Head to Rouses Point, with sewage treatment plants in need of improvement, are eligible, Davies said.
“One of the criteria set is that they are within 250 feet of the priority body of water, so that is generally people along the boardwalk,” he added.
BASED ON DEMAND
According to a resolution by the Clinton County legislature, the funds must be used by the end of 2026.
Last time, CCHD was not flooded with requests, so they were processed based on availability. Ideally, Davies said, it will stay that way unless there is great initial demand.
“If so, we can award based on needs or environmental impact.”
Davies said there appears to be an increasing demand for sewage treatment plants in Clinton County. In 2019, his office processed around 179 permit applications. That number rose to 279 in 2020.
“I am confident that people will be very interested in it (scholarship program),” he added.
BAD FLOOR, DRY
There will often be poor soil and bedrock problems along the lake, Davies said.
Therefore, one of the requirements of CCHD is that the septic tank absorption fields be 100 feet from the lake.
“These houses, which were built in the 1950s or 1960s, have small lots so they don’t keep the distances,” Davies said. “If they (the septic tanks) fail, liquid can get into the lake and affect the quality.”
CCHD generally wants to make sure that the new systems are better than their predecessors and comply with the code as much as possible, he said.
The DEC and the EFC decide which bodies of water will be addressed with the funds, so Davies is not sure whether or when properties along other bodies of water in the county are eligible for the funds.
Applications for the State Septic System Replacement Fund are made at clintonhealth.org/septic. Residents who believe they are eligible or have questions about the program can contact Davies at 518-565-4870.
According to the CCHD website, owners who apply and are selected to participate in the program should enter into a contract with an engineer to design the sewer system, obtain approval from CCHD, undergo construction, and apply for a refund.
Davies said people can apply for the grant at any time during the process, although it is suggested that they do so during the early stages of their project.
“In order to allocate the right amount of funds, it is important that we have a good estimate from a contractor.”
Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within 90 days of project completion. These requests include a completed form, any design approval, the invoice (s) for eligible costs and proof of payment.
CCHD then checks the applications and receipts and, after confirmation of the eligible project costs, issues the grants in the form of reimbursement payments.
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