With significant American Rescue Plan Act funding earmarked for wastewater projects at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport and Martha’s Vineyard commission, the Dukes County commission has begun to eye a new, broad wastewater initiative for the remainder of its ARPA funding.

During a meeting Wednesday, county commissioner Don Leopold gave a presentation arguing that remaining ARPA funds — approximately $1 million — would be best used to help install septic systems throughout the Island designed to prevent nitrogen from seeping into the Island’s ponds and estuaries.

More than $3 million was allocated to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act. The majority of that funding has been earmarked for a necessary wastewater upgrade at the airport and a nitrogen-reducing septic pilot program at the MVC.

Mr. Leopold said the remaining $1 million will likely have a larger impact on the Island if it is used to improve individual septic systems than if it is used to bolster existing sewer systems.

“We preserve and improve the quality of life,” Mr. Leopold said. “It supports the Island’s water-based industries.”

Mr. Leopold said the plan provides benefits including a material reduction of nitrogen in ponds and lagoons and an alternative to expanding sewer systems to hard-to-reach areas.

Commissioner Tristan Israel said the county has been in contact with Island health agents about the plan, and noted that it has been received well in its early stages.

“They seem to be … supportive of [the] effort we’re looking at,” he said.

Mr. Leopold solicited the commission for opinions on the idea, noting that deeper planning will have to take place before any funds are allocated to specific septic upgrades. He said among other things, the roles of the county, Island health agents and MVC would have to be defined. He also suggested that a committee of county commissioners, health agents and the MVC director be formed.

Broadly, the county commission supported this new direction for ARPA funding.

“So far, I like it,” commissioner Peter Wharton said.

In other business Tuesday, county commissioner John Cahill bid farewell to the board as he finished his last meeting as a commissioner. Mr. Cahill was elected to the Tisbury select board in May.

“The best part of this job when you volunteer is the people you meet along the way,” he said. “I’ll see you on the other side.”