The North Treatment Plant in Menands. (Photo provided)
ALBANY – The Albany County Legislature will examine potential development of an organic waste digester facility with Saratoga County that would treat organic material and sewer sludge from water treatment plants and significantly reduce the need to incinerate, truck and landfill the material.
On Wednesday, May 17, the Albany County Water Purification District voted to move forward with the study and to hire a consultant. Two weeks earlier, on May 4, Saratoga Sewer District did the same.
On Monday, June 12, the Albany County Legislature is expected to vote on hiring Arcadis of Clifton Park to produce a feasibility study for the shared facility. The study would be funded by a $50,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and $25,000 from each county.
Presently, Albany County incinerates its sludge and disposes the waste in the City of Albany Landfill. Saratoga County incinerated bio-solids until 2016 after it had been determined that its incinerators would require improvements to meet new emission guidelines, and currently hauls its leftover waste to a landfill. A regional Anaerobic Digestion facility could generate cost savings, practically eliminate the incineration process and save space at landfills at a time when the governor is working to remove organics from them, according to Albany County Legislature Majority Leader Frank Commisso, Sr.
“This is an important regional project that could be a huge win for Albany and Saratoga counties, economically and environmentally,” Commisso said, noting that the two counties would share construction, operation and maintenance costs.
“Saratoga County Sewer District is excited for the possibility of this type of facility,” said Saratoga County Sewer Executive Director Dan Rourke. “It could give us the ability to be involved in regional measures to reduce the cost of biosolids processing, and be able to aid in the reduction of organics in New York’s landfills. Our goal is to reduce costs to the ratepayers and this study will reveal if that is a real possibility. As the Board of Supervisor’s have already approved the funding of the study, our next step will be assisting the engineering firm in any way we can to work toward completion, and then analyze the results.”
Sewer district commissioners from Albany and Saratoga counties agreed to award Arcadis the job after requesting public proposals. The study would evaluate existing infrastructure and data at the three treatment plants, identify design criteria and funding sources, and help prepare a master plan and project schedule.
Currently, Albany County owns and operates two wastewater treatment facilities, designated North and South, which provide secondary treatment to the wastewater of eight communities in Albany County.
The North Plant, which treats wastes originating from a portion of the cities of Albany, Cohoes, and Watervliet, parts of the towns of Colonie and Guilderland and the villages of Colonie, Menands and Green Island, is located in Menands and is designed to treat an average daily flow of 35 Million Gallons Daily (MGD.)
The South Plant, which treats wastes for the City of Albany as well as the entire Port of Albany, is located in the Port of Albany and is designed to treat an average daily flow of 19 MGD, while it is permitted and effectively treats 29 MGD.
Albany County officials evaluated installing an Anaerobic Digester facility at both water treatment plants last year, but determined the project would only provide an acceptable return if it was co-developed at the North Plant.