LETTER: Clapper Road plant doesn’t need an upgrade

Editor, The Spotlight:

In a Jan. 15 letter I sent to Supervisor Clarkson and the Bethlehem Town Board, I raised questions about a recently approved DPW plan for Capital Improvements to the Clapper Road Water Treatment plant. 

The following is a transcript of that letter.

At the November 13, 2013 meeting, the Bethlehem Town Board authorized the expenditure of “up to $232,000” for engineering studies, to be performed by the firm Hazen Sawyer, pertaining to proposed upgrades to the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant.

At that same meeting, in my comments to the Board, I questioned the need for this expenditure given the Town’s large excess of water supply. In discussion DPW Commissioner Erik Deyoe advocated on behalf of this study and maintained the need for capacity provided by the Clapper Road plant, referring to a “3 year old water study” conducted by his department and the Town’s “long term water demand projections.” He went on to assert that the Town “...cannot meet the long term peak day demand (without) Clapper Road in the mix.”

An examination of the underlying data reveals a different conclusion. Analysis, based on the limited information I have been able to obtain thus far, indicates that the Town of Bethlehem has an excess of annual production capacity:

  1. The Town currently has the capacity to supply approximately 2.9B gallons of water per year from its various sources. This is far in excess of the recent average 1.8B gallons billed to residents and business over each of the past 5 years;

  2. The Clapper Road plant has produced approximately 600M gallons of water in each of the last few years. Eliminating this production would reduce our excess capacity by approximately 33% ;

  3. Historically, the Town has drawn water from the City of Albany in amounts below the annual take or pay threshold. For example in 2011 and 2009 the Town drew 305M and 181M gallons respectively while paying “residential rates” to the City of Albany for 365M gallons in each of those years; and

  4. Concerning Mr. Deyoe’s November 13th statement regarding peak demand: in 2011 peak daily demand exceeded average daily demand by approximately 4M gallons. This is well within our source capacity (excluding Clapper Road) when considering that the Town maintains in storage nearly 20M gallons (or 5 days’ of supply) even without replenishing the storage tanks.

Summarizing, the data provided to me by the Bethlehem DPW points to a demonstrable excess of water supply and suggests the potential for six digit annual savings in budget. Given the size of the capital costs envisioned by the DPW’s improvement plan for Clapper Road it would seem a modest proposal that we revisit the capacity/demand equation before we commit millions of additional dollars for capital improvement that may prove to be unneeded.

Dan Cunningham


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