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Community Announcement: Funding for Tompkins County Septic System Improvements for Eligible Homeowners

(Ithaca, N.Y., September 27, 2022) – The Tompkins County Health Department is notifying the community about the availability of grant funds that will cover the costs related to septic system repairs or replacement. The Tompkins County Septic Upgrade Program (TCSUP) is funded through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded by New York Office of Homes and Community Renewal. This program makes funds available for low-to-moderate income homeowners in Tompkins County who are in need of septic system repair or replacement. Funding covers 100% of repair costs and applications will be accepted through April 1, 2023.  

Approximately 14,000 homes in Tompkins County are outside of municipally owned sewer service areas and rely on onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) to manage household wastewater. Estimates show that 60% of these systems are more than 20 years old, and that no records exist for 10% of the systems. Aging and failing OWTS can result in problems including backed up sewer pipes, contaminated water wells, or untreated sewage on the ground. The cost of replacing an OWTS presents a significant financial burden for residents.

“A struggling or failed OWTS can be a major barrier to safe and affordable housing for Tompkins County residents,” says Becky Sims, Environmental Health Specialist and TCSUP Grant Manager. “With replacement costs typically in excess of $10,000, a failed OWTS can place homeowners in a vulnerable position. The Septic Upgrade Program is an excellent opportunity for the Health Department to work with homeowners on a solution to both the public health hazards and the financial burdens associated with failed OWTS,” said Sims.   

Applications are currently being accepted for funding by Thoma Developments Consultants, a business management consultant group that is administering the grant on behalf of the Tompkins County Health Department. Household income must be at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), (e.g. $80,150 for a family of 4); a complete table can be viewed online. Homes must be single-family, owner-occupied, and the property’s OWTS must be aging or in need of replacement. Other requirements may apply.

For more information and to apply for the TCSUP grant program, contact Thoma Developments Consultants directly at 607-753-1433, Monday-Friday, between 8:30 AM – 4 PM.  

To learn more about septic systems, regulations, permits, and additional funding sources (such as the State Septic System Replacement Fund), please visit TCHD’s Environmental Health website at: https://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/eh/owts.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord, salvord@tompkins-co.org

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