An outrageous number of failing onsite systems forces this county to take drastic measures.

Where there are unsewered homes, there are inevitably failing onsite systems. In an effort to tackle the outrageous number of failing systems and eliminate nitrogen pollution, officials in Suffolk County, N.Y., are giving away free advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems to 19 lucky winners. According to, the lottery is part of the county’s “Reclaim Our Water” initiative.

With more than 360,000 unsewered homes in the county, failing, unmaintained and excessive loadings from septic systems and cesspools are causing extreme amounts of nitrogen in the ground.

“The lottery winners will receive free installation — including monitoring and maintenance for five years — of systems designed to greatly reduce nitrogen contamination of groundwater and surface waters,” says the article.

Related: 5 Simple Tips to Teach Homeowners About Onsite Systems

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that homeowners can apply online at the county’s website by Nov. 14. After a thorough screening process, a random drawing will be conducted to select the 19 qualified homeowners. 

BUSSE Green Technologies, Norweco, Orenco Systems and Hydro-Action Industries donated the 19 systems to help mitigate what officials are calling a “water-quality crisis” in the area.

Suffolk County officials are taking a page out of Rhode Island’s homeowner handbook, which has successfully educated onsite system owners for more than 15 years. 

Related: Blog: Evidence of a crumbling onsite system infrastructure in Indiana

In addition to installation of new systems, the program will educate homeowners on proper septic system maintenance protocols to foster long-term operation of the new systems. 

As an ongoing improvement plan, the systems will be sampled monthly for the first six months, and then sampled four times a year for a total of two years. After that, the systems will only be sampled as part of the annual maintenance contract. 

Although the names of the onsite service providers who will install the systems were not provided in the article, I’m sure those specialists are eager to volunteer their time and expertise to bring some much-needed onsite innovation to Suffolk homeowners. 

Related: Blog: Are your customers listening?

How have you donated your time or onsite services to help a good cause? Tell us your story!

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