Public Health Takes Centerstage at Kent Lakes Association Meeting:

Health Department Engineers Work for a Greener Putnam

Putnam County has a pastoral landscape and preserving this treasured environment is a priority throughout the County, and in particular at the Putnam County Department of Health. A number of green programs have been established to keep hazardous materials from contaminating the environment. This week health department engineers were educating members of the Town of Kent Lakes Association about septic system basics and how their residents might qualify for the recently expanded New York State septic system replacement fund program, which provides reimbursement money to homeowners for qualified projects. Originally limited to Lake Oscawana residents in Putnam Valley, the program has been expanded to Palmer Lake in Kent, and residents within the East Branch Croton River Middle tributaries in the Town of Southeast.

“Our beautiful, rural surroundings are one of our most appreciated attributes here in Putnam County,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “I know this is true for myself and my colleagues in the legislature, as well as our residents. Our legislators recently proclaimed June ‘Recycle Month,’ because recycling is a basic step everyone can take to make a difference. Knowledge about septic maintainence is also important for residents to know.”

Shawn Rogan, environmental health director at the health department, agreed saying, “Our environment is a complex ecosystem. Everything helps—recycling and reusing materials, and reducing hazardous waste whether it is from oil-based paint or a faulty septic systems. Over the past pandemic year, many family members have been staying closer to home and unfortunately we have seen a notable rise in septic failures.”

Public health engineers Joseph Paravati, PE, and Anthony Fricchione advanced the County’s green mission further when they represented the health department at a virtual meeting of Kent Lakes Association this week. “The association wanted to better understand how septic systems function and we were happy to help,” said Mr. Paravati. “A failing septic system can affect more than one residence. It can affect neighbors, and if near a waterbody, it can potentially impact water quality. That is what public health is all about—protecting the community.”

In addition to learning the basics and maintenance of septics, information on eligibility criteria and application procedures for reimbursement was shared. If a resident qualifies, then the homeowner may be able to receive up to 50 pecent of the repair costs, up to a $10,000 maximum. “This reiumbursement program potentially can save residents significant money,” stated Mr. Fricchione. “The health department would like residents to take advantage of this program to the fullest extent possible. It is a win for everyone.” Audience questions were also encouraged by the speakers during the virtual meeting.

The septic system replacement fund program was established under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017. The state departments of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and Health (NYSDOH) identfied the at-risk geographic locations throughout the state based known water quality impairment and other legislated criteria. The reimbursement funding comes from the Environmental Facilities Corporation, a state agency whose purpose is to help communities undertake critical water quality infrastructure projects. Putnam and other participating counties receive funds and disperse the money upon completion of projects to the approved homeowners.

More information for residents living near any of these waterbodies about the reimbursement program can be found at www.efc.ny.gov/SepticReplacement. In additon to preventing septic failures to keep waterways and drinking water safe, the health department collects household hazardous waste, and expired or discarded medications periodically throughout the year to further its mission of perserving the natural beauty of Putnam.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education.

For more information, please visit the County website at www.putnamcountyny.com, or visit their social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY


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