Officials tour sewer plant
JOHNSTOWN — State and local officials on Friday afternoon took a tour of the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility, as the plant gears up to address infrastructure needs that require extra state and federal funding.
The event — bringing together state Sen. James Tedisco and state Assemblyman Robert Smullen for a tour of the Union Avenue sewage treatment plant — was coordinated by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.
As part of the program, a Gloversville business owner was also presented by the CRG with a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant Microenterprise Grant award check. Gloversville entrepreneur Michael Medina, owner of the Fulton County Barbershop, 17 N. Main St., was presented with the check.
Attendees of the tour were treated for lunch to Medina’s Puerto Rican food truck, Chayla’s Chuchifrito.
“I’m very thankful for a local agency like the CRG,” said Medina.
Kenneth Adamczyk, CRG economic development specialist, told the group of state and local invited officials prior to the tour that the sewer plant could stand to benefit from help for its infrastructure. He said the fact the tour was organized to show off the sewer facility was noteworthy in itself.
“It shows we’re all working together,” Adamczyk stated.
He briefly discussed the facility’s Thermal Sludge Dryer project, which is trying to secure infrastructure funds.
“This is an amazing project,” the CRG official said.
According to Adamczyk, “This facility is an incredible economic development catalyst for developing Fulton County. The GJJWTF board is looking at applying for grants to make it a more green facility with a new “sludge” processor which will reduce their carbon footprint by up to 90 percent. The county has also had a study completed to tie in some of the more distant municipalities to provide better services countywide and to make more of the county large facility development ready.”
Facility Manager Wallace Arnold told the gathering that much is happening at the facility of late, also recounting some of the history of the facility. He said that since 2000, about $30.5 million has been invested in the facility. Since operation of the plant began in 1972, He said two digesters have been built, over $500,000 is now generated in electrical sales, and the CAST system has been built to address the whey waste needs of companies such as FAGE USA.
Prior to the CAST project, he said. “The plant was too small to handle it.”
Now, he said the facility is eyeing a sludge dryer that may cost over $8 million. The idea is to convert the wet sludge the facility receives through the sewage treatment process and convert it to dry sludge, which can then be burned.
“I think it’s a good fit for our facility,” Arnold said.
Once the conversion happens, he said the sewer plant would reduce its trips to deliver sludge to the Fulton County landfill from hundreds to two per day. It would also save on landfill space.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Arnold said.
He said the sewer plant is only at 40 percent capacity and can cater to many more future needs in Fulton County.
Also prior to the tour, Northampton Supervisor James Groff touched on a county project involving possible sewer connections from his town to Johnstown. He said it would take millions to upgrade sewer plants in his town and the village of Mayfield, and the comprehensive $15 mile county project might go a long way toward improving sewer infrastructure.
“These are small communities and they need help,” Groff said.
Groff said the sewer project would also represent a true regional effort.
“I just think this would bring a tremendous economic boon to the county,” he said.
Smullen said there is state funding for sewer infrastructure projects like the Glove Cities sewer plant is looking for, such as Environmental Protection Funds.
“This would be a good thing from a state perspective,” he said.
CRG President/CEO Ron Peters said the local sewer plant was “one of the best” in the United States.
The tour — led by Arnold — went through various buildings at the sewer plant. It started with the laboratory, and included showing off the facility’s liquid scrubber, and the sludge building, which he said will have to be refurbished.