Proper maintenance of your system not only ensures continuous function, extends its life, and reduces the risk of contaminating the ground and nearby surface waters, it actually saves you money.


Why You Should Care

Image credit: The Nature Conservancy

Except for the center of Long Island, wastewater exiting your home wastewater system seeps into the ground where it joins the groundwater and then travels to our bays, creeks, and the Long Island Sound. In some areas, it travels to join the aquifer from which we get our drinking water. Your system – if it is properly designed and functioning – treats this effluent so that it does not carry harmful bacteria with it as it leaves your property. However, home wastewater systems, as currently designed, cannot remove all nitrogen, pharmaceuticals, and other pollutants. It is therefore important to understand the steps you can take to minimize these pollutants before they can cause harm.

Regular preventive maintenance is:

Good for you

  • Saves you money from costly emergency repairs
  • Extends the life of your system. You can expect to pay $300 -700 every three to five years for a pump-out, instead of the thousands it may take to repair or replace a failing system or restore contaminated structures and sites.
  • Avoids backup of wastewater into your home, thus protecting your family.
  • Avoids untreated wastewater surfacing in your yard, which is a smelly health hazard for you and your family
  • Allows you to better understand the system you have, keep it in good repair, avoid damage from failures, and plan for upgrades as needed in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Good for Your Community and Environment

  • Improves local water quality decreasing the chance of beach and shellfish closures.
  • Maintains neighborhood property values by keeping the surrounding environment safe and beautiful.
  • Reduces costs for the treatment of drinking water

How Does my Home Wastewater Impact Long Island’s Underground and Surface Waters?

Why You Should Care

Image credit: The Nature Conservancy

Your home wastewater system discharges into the ground. Once released to the ground, the wastewater travels downward until it reaches groundwater. In the center of Long Island, this water will continue to move downward until it enters the deep aquifer from which we draw our drinking water. Closer to the shore or to streams and ponds (surface water), the groundwater beneath our houses migrates horizontally until it meets and enters our bays, streams, and ponds. Any pathogens (disease-causing bacteria and viruses), medications, nutrients, or other contaminants not removed by our home wastewater systems will be carried into either our drinking water or our coastal waters.

Regular care and upgrading of your home wastewater system is crucial to protect the water quality of Long Island Sound, its bays, harbors, and creeks. In addition to the threat of pathogens entering groundwater and surface waters, excess nutrients (such as nitrogen) from home wastewater systems trigger algal blooms, which reduce oxygen in the water when they die, hindering shellfish and other marine life survival rates. Some algal blooms produce harmful toxins can cause disease and even death to pets and humans. Excess nutrients also weaken root structures, resulting in the loss of sea grasses and tidal wetlands which help protect your property from damage during storms.

Help ensure your continued enjoyment of all the benefits our coastal waters offer, such as swimming, fishing, boating, eating seafood, and enjoying a walk beside clear waters, by taking care of your system.

Friends of the Bay Image Map

This website was prepared for the C.E.S.S.P.O.O.L. Project with funds from the New York State Department of State through Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund