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Town details goals of wastewater treatment study

Bethlehem officials have laid out a timeline and framework for a study designed to measure the need for improvements at the town’s wastewater treatment facility.

At a public meeting held Oct. 20 in Selkirk regarding a study of upgrades needed at the plant on Dinmore Road, about 15 residents asked questions and voiced opinions about the aging plant, most related to rising waters and horrible smells that are linked back to the facility.

“This was the first of two public meetings on the matter,” said Karen Clark, Vice President and Wastewater Operations Manager for CHA, the company working with the town on upgrades to the plant. “This was supposed to be informational as we plan for the next 30 years within the town.”

One goal for the project is to increase the capacity of water the plant takes in. Currently, the plant accepts an average of 4.2 million gallons per day (mgd). The capacity for the plant is 6 mgd, and proposed upgrades would bump up that total by 50 percent to 9 mgd.

“We are increasing the peak capacity,” said Clark, “and looking at new technologies that would bypass the plant and still allow for flow to continue.”

Along with capacity upgrades, the town and outside engineers are also looking to meet goals that would reduce sludge pouring into the plant, and looking to reduce odors impacting neighbors who live nearby the 40-year-old facility. As part of the study, engineers will review the potential impacts of climate change, and will also carry out a planning study as population numbers increase due to new developments in the town.

“We’ve looked at areas that aren’t on sewer, and we need to allow for the possibility of those within the town as well,” said Clark.

Energy consumption at the plant will also be reviewed. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, has provided $26,400 for a study of energy usage at the facility.

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