This voluntary program reimburses primary (full-time) residents of the West-of-Hudson (WOH) NYC Watershed 100 percent of eligible costs of designing and repairing or replacing a failed septic system that predates November 2, 1995. Owners of non-primary residences are reimbursed 60 percent of eligible costs.

Who is eligible for assistance? Owners of septic systems that are within 700 feet of a watercourse (a river or stream that runs during all or most of the year) or are within the 60-day travel time priority zone in the West-of-Hudson (WOH) NYC Watershed. Systems must serve one- or two-family residences, or home-business combinations, and treat less than 1,000 gallons per day.

This program does NOT pay for septic systems serving newly constructed homes, or for systems installed after November 2, 1995.

How can you participate? If you receive a letter from the CWC indicating your property is located within an eligible area, you are invited to set up a site visit by CWC staff. Or, if you feel your system is within 700 feet of a watercourse and you have not received a letter, contact the CWC.

How does the program work? If, following a site visit by CWC, it is determined that the system needs further analysis you will be offered the opportunity to sign in to the voluntary program. You will then engage a contractor to unearth part of the system and pump out the tank or cesspool for inspection by the CWC. If no problems are found, you will be reimbursed for reasonable costs of the excavation and pump-out. If problems are found, you are responsible for engaging an engineer to design the repairs, and a contractor to do the work. You should obtain a quote for the work and submit it to CWC for written approval before any construction cost is incurred. In the event that a quote exceeds $25,000, the CWC Board of Directors shall approve the scope of work and the cost of the system before construction may begin. Also note that the CWC does not pay sales tax. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to make certain that any needed local permits are obtained, and that the NYC DEP has approved the design and is notified at least 48 hours before construction commences. CWC staff can help you navigate this process.

What if your system fails and you’re not in an eligible area? If your septic system fails, you may receive a Notice of Failure or Violation from the NYC DEP. But even If you do not, it is the homeowner’s responsibility under NYS law to have your system repaired. First, contact the CWC to confirm whether you are, in fact, outside the eligibility area. If so, have the work done, and save all receipts and pertinent documents which may allow you to be reimbursed should future program rule changes and funding permit.

What if you cannot afford to pay engineering and construction costs up front? To avoid your out-of-pocket payment, the CWC can reimburse approved expenses with a two-party check which the homeowner can then sign over to the engineer or contractor. In addition, homeowners who meet income requirements may qualify for hardship assistance from the CWC, whether or not their property lies within an eligible area. Contact the CWC for further information.