Town to Consider Money for Apartment's Septic System Upgrade

A committee formed to assess water quality improvement projects that could be paid for with East Hampton Town’s community preservation fund brought two new proposals to the town board’s table last week: replacement of an aging septic system at an affordable apartment complex with a system using newer technology that strips polluting nitrogen from waste emissions, and the replacement of a 1930s-era stormwater drainage pipe that channels runoff into Georgica Pond.

Voters last year approved a referendum allowing the use of up to 20 percent of the town’s preservation fund — originally established for open space, farmland, and historic preservation — on water protection and improvement initiatives. So far, the town has approved funding for three projects with the preservation fund money earmarked for water quality — all to prevent or remove nitrogen or other pollutants in Accabonac Harbor in Springs. Funding has been requested to help the Springs School address its failing septic system.

Chris Clapp, who serves on the town’s technical advisory committee for water quality projects funded by the C.P.F., told the town board at a Nov. 21 meeting that the managers of the Whalebone Village apartments have asked the town to finance the $376,000 installation of a low-nitrogen septic system at the complex. The apartments lie off Three Mile Harbor Road in a watershed and harbor protection district. Those areas are the focus of a separate town program that provides rebates of up to $16,000 per household for the installation of nonpolluting septic systems. 

Mr. Clapp said that the septic system upgrade is only one among a number of improvements — including installing energy-efficient doors and windows and solar panels — for which Whalebone Village is seeking grants. Should the town agree to provide the money for the septic system, that money would fulfill a requirement for a local municipal contribution in order for the complex to win state money, which would go toward the other improvements.

The complex, with 46 rental units, is responsible for generating wastewater equivalent to that produced by about 23 single-family houses, Mr. Clapp said — a “large point-source of wastewater” that could be eliminated by the new septic system installation.

In East Hampton Village, Mr. Clapp said, a pipe running 7,700 feet from the Cove Hollow area and Route 114 to Georgica Cove has more than 20 entry points where unfiltered stormwater runoff flows in and runs directly into the pond. 

The advisory committee, he said, recommends an assessment of the pipe and a variety of strategies that could prevent untreated water being directed into the pond. Solutions might include a combination of new drywells along the route and the diversion of water into them; new catch basins to “try to get as much of the rain into the ground as close to where it fell” as possible; installing filters in the pipe to trap pollutants along the way, and, if necessary, treating outflow at the end of the pipe to remove pathogens and nutrients before the water ends up in the pond. 

The town will issue a request for proposals for that engineering work.