Two New York Counties Offer Grants for Septic System Repairs

In a press release issued Sunday, April 11, two counties in New York announced that they will offer grants for homeowners to repair septic systems. A total of $75,000 in grant funds are available to homeowners in Livingston County. Genesee County will offer $150,000 in similar grants for homeowners who need to perform septic system repairs.

Where the Grant Funds Came From

The grant funding is from New York's State Septic System Replacement Program. The money is intended to offer protection for the state's Environmental Protection Agency describes as important water bodies. One of those is Conesus Lake. It's a source of drinking water for about 20,000 people in Genesee County. According to Livingston County Environmental Health Director, the idea is to fix failing septic systems that are upstream from priority water bodies. A leak in such a septic system could contaminate the critical source of drinking water for the community.

How the Grants Will Protect the Local Environment

According to Grove, even though not many septic systems are directly connected to Conesus Lake, there are several streams that feed into the lake. Those streams are known to pass in close proximity to properties with septic systems. If any of those septic systems are damaged, they could pick up contaminated water and bring it into the lake's ecosystem. The streams that feed the lake are important to the lake's health. Sewage contamination from dilapidated septic lines could wreak havoc on the streams and the lake.

Why the Grants Were Issued

New York issued these grants as part of a statewide effort championed by Governor Cuomo. The total grant amounts are $15 million to help homeowners with repairs that aim to protect the local environment. This is the second round of grant funding. The total amount of homeowner grants across all the rounds of funding is $75 million. The goal of the grant funds is to improve water quality and protect public health. This will be accomplished by replacing aging and substandard septic systems. The funds can also be used to pay for the removal of cesspools in communities around New York.

How the Grant Funds Will Impact the Communities

In Livingston County, improving the quality of Lake Conesus's water is more important than ever. Recent water quality studies demonstrate that the lake has a high load of phosphorus. However, residents have been reluctant to participate in the program. Livingston County has sent 300 letters inviting homeowners to apply for the funds, and they only received six replies. Grove isn't sure why people are reluctant to apply for the free money. Each of the homeowners who has participated so far received about $5,000 toward their septic system repairs.

How Much Money Homeowners Can Get

Each homeowner who applies for grant funds can get up to $10,000 in reimbursement. The funds can be used to cover up to 50% of the costs of septic repair or replacement or the removal of a cesspool. Funding is available through 2023.
The cost for the reimbursement is not to exceed $10,000 and people who are eligible will be reimbursed for 50% of the costs. People in Livingston County who have questions or want to submit an application to the program can call (585) 243-7280 or go online at Residents of Genesee County who are interested in applying should contact Thomas Sacco, who is the lead sanitarian for this program. Homeowners can reach him at (585) 344-2580, extension 5496. A community member can also email him at

How the Application Process Works

To apply for the grant funds, homeowners should prove they own the property and that it has a septic system or cesspool in need of repair. They should do the paperwork indicating that they had the repairs made and how much they paid the licensed plumbers to do the work. They will also need to prove that their property is located close to one of the priority water bodies, including streams, Lake Conesus or one of its tributaries. After the replacement system is installed, homeowners submit a reimbursement application. To date, about $86,533 has been distributed to homeowners for repairs to their septic systems or removal of their old cesspools. The reimbursement process takes about two weeks from receipt of the application. Reimbursements are issued in the form of a check sent to the owner of the property where repairs were made.

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