Arnold: Sewage plant fixes $2M

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant is looking for the Common Council’s support for $2 million in bonding for two planned projects — one state mandated and the other from a $1 million upgrade that resulted in severe odor problems.

Wallace Arnold, the manager of the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant came to the council to speak about recent bond issues that have come up.

The first is a state Department of Environmental Conservation mandate for an ultraviolet disinfection filter. Arnold come before the Johnstown Common Council earlier this month to ask for $1.5 million for the installation of the system.

The facility is governed by a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, known as SPDES. The state DEC is modifying the facility’s SPDES permit, requiring the addition of disinfection treatment of liquid waste discharge to rid it of bacteria. Arnold told the council this project must be operational by the spring 2019. He said he wants to get it installed by next year, so it is operating by the 2019 state-mandated date.

He said if the bond for the project is approved, the cities would be reimbursed quickly.

“We pay .15 cents on the dollar. The bad news is, we’ve got to cough up the money first,” Arnold said.

The plant has been trying to tackle an odor issue that happened after it was upgraded to the Contact Absorption Settling Thickening system, or CAST system in May 2016.

The solution to the odor issues, said Arnold, is a bio-tower featuring bacteria which eat some of the waste, a chemical scrubber and activated charcoal and costs around $1 million.

Arnold said he could do the project for $500,000 if they only use the chemical scrubber, but the chemicals for the process would be $50,000 a year, versus $24,000 if they go with the larger plan.

“It’s more money up front, but you save long term,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the equipment is only guaranteed for three years, but said the plant currently has one that dates back to 2006, that is still operational.

“I had it cleaned up this year and it is running 100 percent again,” he said.

Arnold said he additionally looked at burning off the gas that is made from Fage Dairy USA waste –the plant uses an activated sludge, which removes large particles of the waste. What is left is then sent on to a digester, where it is reduced to gas– but, he said, that could cost $2.6 million over 20 years because of the cost of natural gas.

“I can’t eliminate [the gas] through incineration,” he said.

Arnold also discussed a third project, a sludge dryer, that is a more of a long-term goal. The $7 million project would take three years to install. He said he understands the cities don’t have that much money available, but said it would save money over time.

“We give the county $750,000 every year to bury our…sludge. If I could dry it from 13 percent to 90 percent solids, I calculated we could save half a million dollars,” Arnold said.

The plant currently makes around eight trips a day to bring the sludge to the landfill. He said if a dryer was purchased, the city could reduce that to three trips every two days.

“That would mean I won’t need the four trucks that I have. Everything can be reduced– the operators time on the road and the hazard would be reduced,” Arnold said. “It’s $34 a ton to dispose of this. That’s a lot of money to dispose of water, and then I get it back anyway as leachate.”

Arnold said he would like to visit a facility that features the systems to get a better idea about them and the volume of noise produced by the fans involved.

Mayor Dayton King asked that Arnold and the finance commissioner of the two cities put together a spread sheet of the proposed projects and the long term costs or savings.

“We’re investing, we’re doing the right things for the long term,” King said.

According to City Attorney Anthony Casale, the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown split the costs of plant-specific projects or infrastructure upgrades 50-50. City specific issues, such as sewer main breaks, are handled by the individual cities.