By Kristin Schultz
Upgrades to Niskayuna’s wastewater treatment plant are nearly two-thirds complete, and by the end of 2019 the facility should be positioned to service a growing town for another 20 to 30 years.
Dennis Clough of Energy Savings Group (ESG), the contractor for the project, presented a public update to the Town Board on Tuesday, Jan. 23, during which he talked about where the town’s wastewater infrastructure has been and where it is heading.
Clough recapped the reason for taking on the multimillion dollar project to begin with: aging infrastructure that led to a development moratorium under a DEC consent order.
“The project goals were to address the consent order work ASAP,” Clough said.
In addition, project goals included expanding capacity to 3.5 million gallons per day, addressing aging infrastructure and asset renewal needs, making the plant operationally efficient and adding green energy to open new income streams.
The upgrades to the Whitmyer Drive facility began back in 2015 when the town started soliciting bids. A year later, the hammers swung into action. And in December, phase two was complete enough to arrange for DEC inspection.
The inspection was to take place by the end of January with results known and the moratorium potentially lifted by mid-February.
Two new circular clarifiers and an additional storage tank now sit at the facility. Those and other improvements will allow the plant to process more water and adequately handle high-flow events without overwhelming the system and causing unintended discharge into the Mohawk River.
Phase three will begin this March and is expected to wrap up by the end of 2019. During this time, improvements will be made that further increase the plant’s efficiency and will even allow the town to make more money.
When the project is complete, the town will be able to offer some of its capacity to businesses that need to responsibly dispose of liquids. The town could see additional annual revenue between $350,000 and $800,000 by providing disposal services.
Clough told the board that tanker trucks would deliver the liquid waste during midday hours and that the waste could include airplane de-icing fluid, expired soda, trap grease and dairy waste.
“It will be a reliable, cost-effective disposal for [businesses] that struggle to find reliable and sustainable ways to dispose [liquid waste],” Clough said.
When phase three is complete, the facility will also be a net-zero energy facility. That means it will produce all the energy it needs to run onsite — by way of microbes that produce methane while digesting solid material — taking nothing from the grid. Niskayuna will be the second town in the state to achieve this designation. The Johnstown-Gloversville plant was the first.
Clough said once complete, the upgrades and fixes will last for between 20 and 30 years. Councilman Bill McPartlon noted that by that time the $17 million in bond financing will have been paid off.