LAKE GEORGE — The Town Board on Monday approved an agreement with the Fund for Lake George to create a program, where the nonprofit will provide grants of up to 50% to help residents replace their failing septic systems.
The program would pay up to $8,000 maximum for each system. The septic initiative is an outgrowth of a report that the fund completed earlier this year, which detailed the problem areas around the lake where failing systems could be discharging raw sewage into the lake.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky said when the organization did a pilot project for Dunham’s Bay, it learned that the average costs of a new septic system was about $16,000.
They had been providing grants of about $12,000.
“We found that $8,000 kind of spread it out a little more,” he said.
Navitsky said the organization would be working with the Planning and Zoning Department to determine which septic systems would get the first crack at the funding.
“It’s really based on the need and the prioritization,” he said.
The Fund for Lake George has allocated $30,000 and plans to fund four projects in this calendar year, according to Navitsky.
The projects will have to be located within 500 feet of Lake George or 100 feet of tributary streams. The Fund for Lake George is in the process so funding the grant application, which will be available through the organization’s website.
Determining which septic systems would be helped first would be based upon the Lake George Septic Initiative report compiled by the Fund for Lake George. The report identified 10 areas of concern at the greatest risk from failing septic systems. These were North Diamond Point and South Diamond Point, Smokey Bear, South Green Harbour, Stebbins Brook, Sunnyview, Westover Cove, Plum Point, Sand Pebble Cove and Wiawaka.
Navitsky said it is important to make sure the systems are functional in places where they are close to a lake or stream.
The town would follow through with inspections to make sure that the systems are receiving routine maintenance, according to Barusch, director of planning and zoning for the town.
Navitsky said the Fund for Lake George is working with local banks seeking to provide low- or no-interest loans for home owners to upgrade systems. It could possibly be included under home equity loans.
“We’ve already had two meetings with some of the local banks and there is interest,” he said. “We’re hoping to meet with them over the next month and a half and kind of take it to the next level.”
In addition, Navitsky said the Fund for Lake George is working with Warren County to put in an application to be listed in the New York Septic System Replacement Program, which also provides grants to replace septic systems.
Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he appreciates the Fund for Lake George committing the money.
“It’s a great partnership,” he said.
The Fund for Lake George believes that one-third of septic systems are older than their 30-year life expectancy and there is no data on one-third, according to its report. The organization compiled data from surveys and property records about the age of the septic systems and then combined that information with information about how far systems were septic from the lake, conditions of soils and the amount of algae growth at various points around the lake — a sign that excessive nutrients from septic systems are being discharged.