Septic Work Funding Sought

Springs school officials met with two members of the East Hampton Town Board last week and agreed to the town’s request for more detailed information about the additional $235,000 the district is seeking to help it upgrade to a nitrogen-reducing wastewater treatment system.

The town would like the Springs School to have approval from the Suffolk County Health Department in hand and provide a timeline for the site work before it decides on the school district’s funding request, Debra Winter, the district’s superintendent, said on Monday at the Springs School Board meeting.

“We are working to provide the board with that information,” Ms. Winter said.

The school’s 47-year-old septic system first began malfunctioning in 2015 and broke down in March of 2017. The district was forced to have the system pumped every 10 days after that, and finally had contractors repair or replace the existing system’s 12 leaching pools and pump last August. But the temporary fixes are only expected to remain operative through 2019, and there is widespread acknowledgement that the compromised system was affecting nearby waterways such as Accabonac Harbor.

The district moved closer toward a permanent fix in March when Springs voters approved a $16.9 million bond for the expansion and renovation of the school, which included an $800,000 earmark for the septic system.

Officials at the town, county, and state level have continued working with the district to find alternate funding, and the district was surprised in late July when that work brought results: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office announced the Springs School had been awarded $1.33 million in New York State grant money for the septic project through the state’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.

“Now,” Ms. Winter said in a telephone interview Monday, “the difference between the state grant and the remaining cost of the upgrade is $235,000, and that’s what we’re asking the town to pick up through its C.P.F.,” or community preservation fund, which can be used for water-quality improvement projects.

H2M Architects and Engineers is overseeing wastewater treatment for the school district and is working with Stony Brook University’s Center for Clean Water Technology on ways to get nitrogen so low that it actually would be below the drinking water standards, the school principal, Eric Casale, said last month.

When the upgrade is completed, the school’s new system could reduce nitrogen concentration in Accabonac Harbor and Pussy’s Pond by as much as 94 percent and benefit the long-term health of Long Island’s groundwater, the governor’s office said in a late July press release to announce the Springs grant.

Ms. Winter said the district hopes to break ground on the new system next summer.