Pepsi wastewater means higher fee

Town tacks $400k onto company’s bill after bottling plan byproducts spike

— After a 27-year history with the Latham Pepsi plant, the Colonie Department of Public Works has noticed a dramatic increase in the corporation’s contaminated wastewater output this year.

Representatives from the Department of Public Works briefed the Town Board on Thursday, Oct. 25, to warn board members Pepsi may send a representative to complain about the company’s recent sewer assessment at a Nov. 8 public hearing.

The facility is assessed by a formula to determine how much additional byproduct is in their wastewater. Pepsi is the significant industrial user for the sewer system in the town and has been assessed under the formula since 1985.

“Over the last year, they not only had additional flow, as in additional wastewater coming out, but the wastewater has a higher level of contaminates than normal,” Colonie Commissioner of Public Works Jack Cunningham said.

Though sewer water assessments are performed frequently and the formula has remained the same, there have been spikes in the amount of contaminate byproduct in the wastewater over 2011 and 2012.

“We haven’t seen the spike in conjunction in the volume of wastewater (before). We’ve never seen the spike along with additional flow,” Cunningham said.

The town informed Pepsi of the contamination and the subsequent change in its bill: about a $400,000 increase. Cunningham said Pepsi has yet to refute anything said in the reports or file a formal complaint. He also said the company has not provided the department with any information as to the sudden increase in contamination and flow.

Cunningham predicted a Pepsi representative might come to the public hearing to address to the board because of the steep increase in fees. A message left with the company was not returned as of press time.

Since there remain only weeks for a 2013 budget to be completed and approved, there’s nothing that can be done for Pepsi this year, Cunningham said.

“The budget wouldn’t be adopted on time,” he said.

Cunningham said he cannot predict where the increase is coming from but Pepsi has done “nothing proactive at this point.”

“One of the frustrations of being a municipality and doing utilities, we only know what happens from the curb on. We don’t know what happens from behind the doors of the building,” Cunningham said. “I don’t know what’s going on side the (Pepsi) operations that would cause this.”

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