GENEVA — The state is making available $1.1 million for the replacement of aging and failing septic systems in the watersheds of the Finger Lakes region.

The grant money under the Septic Tank Rebate Program was announced Thursday by State Sen. Pam Helming, R-54 of Canandaigua.

The $1.1 million is allocated to Cayuga, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Tompkins counties for replacement of failing private septic systems.

Specific allocations are:

CAYUGA COUNTY: $225,000 for the watersheds of Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles lakes.

ONTARIO COUNTY: $225,000 for Canadice, Canandaigua, Hemlock, Honeoye and Seneca lakes.

SENECA COUNTY: $225,000 for Seneca and Cayuga lakes.

MONROE COUNTY: $150,000 for Irondequoit Bay, Mill Creek and Shipbuilder Creek and their tributaries.

TOMPKINS COUNTY: $150,000 for Cayuga Lake.

WAYNE COUNTY: $150,000 for Lake Ontario and Blind Sodus Bay.

Under the program, septic system that are failing or are likely to fail and are located near priority water bodies are eligible to participate. The state provides funds to the county to reimburse eligible property owners for a portion of the cost of replacing failing septic systems and installing more environmentally effective systems.

Eligible property owners can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of eligible costs up to $10,000. Seasonal or secondary homes are not eligible for the program.

Participating counties will determine the eligibility of projects to be funded. The counties determine the grant awards based on program criteria and the priority location in relation to a body of water, impacts on groundwater used as drinking water and the condition of the current septic system.

The grant funds are targeted to geographic areas within participating counties that contain groundwater supplies and surface water drinking water supplies and other threatened or impaired surface waters where septic systems and cesspools are known or suspected to be adversely impacting the body of water.

For more information on eligibility, people should call the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in their counties.

“The Septic Tank Rebate Program will give local communities an important tool they need to protect water quality and keep our lake clean,” Helming said. “Our pristine lakes provide drinking water for hundred of thousands of people. They attract many visitors to our local communities and are drivers of economic development and job creation in our region.”

Helming said failing septic systems threaten drinking water and contribute to harmful algal blooms and hurt recreational opportunities in the Finger Lakes.

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