Treatment plant upgrades could end building moratorium

PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Pipes line the shoulder of Pearse Road in Niskayuna as a major sewer project is underway Friday, July 1, 2016.PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Pipes line the shoulder of Pearse Road in Niskayuna as a major sewer project is underway Friday, July 1, 2016.

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

To the delight of town officials and developers alike, it appears that the building moratorium in Niskayuna may be lifted six months ahead of the DEC deadline thanks to the completion of work at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

On Dec. 29, the town notified the DEC via letter that improvement and upgrade projects had wrapped up at the Whitmyer Drive facility and were ready for inspection.

“We are in the process of reviewing the letter and will consider lifting the moratorium once we conduct an inspection of the plant, which should take place by the end of [January],” said Rick Georgeson, DEC public information officer.

The town’s water and sewer infrastructure has been in need of repair for years, and in 2010 the state stepped in to put a halt to development that needed to connect to the sewer system.

Now, however, with $9 million in upgrades, including a new weather equalization tank, new baffles in the primary tank, additional secondary clarifier and pumps, and a new ultraviolet disinfection system, the town’s water management infrastructure should meet the DEC’s requirements and the moratorium should be lifted. That would clear the way for additional development.

Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw, who is chairwoman of Niskayuna’s public works committee, said in a statement: “I am very pleased to announce the completion of the most important phase of this infrastructure improvement project. It’s been a great collaborative effort and I’m excited about the next steps.”

Those next steps include two more construction phases costing $8.5 million. The projects have been finance through municipal bonds.

The improvements are meant to allow greater treatment capacity during high flow water events like heavy storms. Additionally, the plant will generate energy, making it an energy net zero facility.