4.4 MGD SPDES
The Town of East Greenbush in Rensselaer County, New York is ideally positioned for growth and economic development. Strategically located directly across the Hudson River from the City of Albany, just minutes from the State’s Capital, with major highway access from I-787 to the west and I-90 to the north, the Town is the location of major industry (Regeneron Pharmaceuticals), significant retail and commercial development, and major residential development. However, with an Order on Consent with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation first executed in 2000 containing a moratorium on new sewer hookups until problems were addressed, the growth and interest in development the Town had experienced in the 1980s and 1990s was not experienced throughout the 2000s, and without a definitive plan for wastewater treatment, the Town’s future was bleak.
Over the years, engineering plans had been developed to upgrade portions of the Town’s sewage infrastructure to address immediate problems, and the concept of abandoning the treatment plant entirely in favor of consolidation with the County’s sewer system had been the subject of a Shared Services Study conducted with funding from the NYS Department of State. Despite years of analysis and discussion, the Town remained uncertain as to the best path forward that would most cost-effectively address the issues outlined in the Order on Consent to lift the sewer connection moratorium while providing the best value and certainty of costs to existing property owners as well as those seeking to develop within the Town.
In 2012, with less than $5,000 in funds remaining in the Shared Services Study grant, the Town Engineer subcontracted with Delaware Engineering to conduct a thorough, fact-based fiscal and technical analysis to assist the Town of East Greenbush in determining whether to consolidate sewer services or upgrade the Town’s WWTP to address the requirements of the Order on Consent. To conduct the analysis, Delaware evaluated treatment plant operations as well as requirements for consolidation, compared existing treatment facilities to regulatory standards, and created a conceptual design and cost estimate for upgrade of the treatment plant. With this data, the Town was able to compare the costs of debt service and continued operation of the Town’s plant to the cost associated with consolidating with the County sewer system.
While initially counter-intuitive, the fact-based analysis prepared by Delaware demonstrated that due to legacy costs (e.g., personnel and existing debt) and the costs of treatment charged by the County system, consolidation would be more costly for the Town’s residents. An approximately $13 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant would require an additional $550,000 in revenues a year, while consolidation with the County would have demanded an additional $1.7 million in revenue annually.
After many years of non-compliance and seven Consent Order Modifications, the public was naturally skeptical of the decision to spend some $13 million to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant instead of eliminating it and consolidating services with the County system. Delaware assisted the Town Board in conducting a series of public information sessions, presentations and hearings to obtain public input, to respond to questions and to ensure that the facts of the analysis were presented to the public prior to final decision-making.
As a result of the analysis and with strong public support, in December of 2012, the Town resolved to upgrade the WWTP to extend its useful life. Design, permitting and financing were conducted in 2013, and construction was completed in the spring of 2016. Through the course of the project, Delaware Engineering conducted planning, provided financing assistance, permitting, design and bidding of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and provided construction engineering for upgrades (including new screening, grit removal, and expansions to primary clarification, biological treatment, disinfection, odor control, sludge treatment systems, SCADA and wastewater flow management).