Cooperstown starts overhaul of wastewater plant

Shweta Karikehalli | The Daily Star

Delaware Engineering President Dave Ohman describes planned upgrades and new construction for the wastewater treatment plant at the Village of Cooperstown Wastewater Treatment Facility on Friday, Aug. 16.

The village of Cooperstown broke ground on wastewater treatment plant upgrades last week.

“We are fortunate that our small community has secured funding through grants and loans to assist in the financing of this critically important project,” Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said in her remarks at the event.

The $9.1 million reconstruction, replacement and upgrade project will improve the efficiency of the 50-year-old plant. The upgrades include a 50-foot primary clarifier, in addition to the already existing clarifier, and upgrades to the trickling filter, biological contactors and the building, according to Tillapaugh. There will also be a new sludge de-watering building and cold storage, a new generator and electrical transformer and significant site improvements.

The current trickling filter is broken and will be one of the first items of focus, said Dave Ohman, Delaware Engineering president. The new sludge de-watering building will allow solids removed from wastewater to be transported to the landfill more frequently, he said. The work will begin the week after Labor Day, and the project is expected to be completed in June or July 2020, Ohman said.

In compliance with Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load regulations, the facility upgrades will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the discharge, Cooperstown Trustee Richard Sternberg said. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water may cause algae to grow too fast, leading to algal blooms that can produce harmful toxins and deplete oxygen levels and harm aquatic life.

The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load is a “pollution diet” meant to limit the amount of certain pollutants entering the watershed, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. The Susquehanna River, which has its headwaters in Cooperstown, flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

“This ultimately will make the discharge cleaner,” Sternberg said. “A failure is a catastrophe for the environment, so we don’t risk that with the new plant.”

Theodore Peters Jr., a biochemist who served on the Cooperstown sewer and water boards for 40 years and helped track the health of Otsego Lake on the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee, was honored at the groundbreaking. A plaque dedicated to Peters will be installed on the building.

Funding for the project includes $4 million in State and Municipal Facilities grants; $2 million secured by state Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford; $2 million secured by former State Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson; $1 million in a grant through the state Department of Environmental Conservation and $880,500 from a state Environmental Facilities Corporation Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant.

The rest will be financed through state Environmental Facilities Corporation financing at 0% interest for 30 years.

“This is a great day,” Seward said. “We are helping both the residents and the businesses, ensuring there is capacity for future growth here in the village, and to accommodate businesses ... and very importantly, protect the environment.”

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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