The project is a wetland treatment system that will reduce nitrogen and other contaminants in wastewater that come from the sanctuary’s septic system.
The new system, which was designed by Stony Brook University’s Center for Clean Water and Technology, became active in spring, and replaces six of the original cesspools on the sanctuary.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legislator William R. Spencer and members of The Nature Conservancy participated in planting on the new system, which relies on plants and soil to remove nitrogen pollution before they seep into groundwater and waterways.
“Water quality is not an issue that we can delay any longer,” Bellone said. “We need to make this workable and affordable for homeowners to be able to install this technology in their homes, so that we can make the progress we need on this issue.”
According to The Nature Conservancy, nearly 75 percent of homes in Suffolk County, and some in Nassau County, dispose of wastewater directly into the ground. The Nature Conservancy also predicts that just one system alone can remove over 250 pounds of nitrogen a year.
Through Suffolk County’s Septic Improvement Program, which helps homeowners to replace their cesspools and septic systems, more than 110 wetland treatment systems have been installed, and over 130 homeowners will receive the new system.
“A really big part of the goal was to bring people in and engage them in what’s happening and to further the science and engineering to come up with better solutions in the future,” Chris Clapp, a marine scientist and member of The Nature Conservancy, said.
“Those are kind of the three big points – outreach, inspire people to act, further the science and engineering in the field, as well as the end result of having cleaner water.”