Montgomery County

Amsterdam waterways seen as revenue streams

It served as a source of power for businesses in Amsterdam’s early days, but the North Chuctanunda C

It served as a source of power for businesses in Amsterdam’s early days, but the North Chuctanunda Creek has become little more than a source of natural beauty running behind neighborhoods and tucked beneath factories.

But officials are hoping the creek may still hold the potential to create power and reduce the cost of operations that burdens taxpayers.

The Common Council last week commissioned a $7,500 study of the potential to develop hydroelectric power to reduce the cost of electricity.

“One hundred to 140 years ago the water was what inspired industrialists to locate their businesses on that waterway because of the energy. This we feel, can be a bridge to our future,” Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said last week.

Firm chosen

The John McDonald Engineering firm will receive up to $7,500 to explore the city’s waterways and develop a feasibility report on where dams could be located.

In places where there’s already dams, those will be evaluated for potential rehabilitation or retrofitting, Thane said.

The study will also outline the potential power generation and amount of money the city could realize under such an endeavor.

Amsterdam Controller Ron Wierzbicki said the city’s 2012-13 budget projects roughly $1.2 million in costs for electricity and another $125,000 for natural gas.

Fourth Ward Alderman David Dybas said a $7,500 study could be well worth the cost in the event it saves money in the long run.

It’s all contingent on positive results from a study, though, Dybas said.

“If you don’t ask the question, you can’t get a definitive answer other than ‘I don’t know,’ ” Dybas said.

In another effort to save money, the Common Council earlier this summer approved $5,500 to study the sludge-drying facility at the wastewater treatment plant on the city’s east side.

Taxpayers have been paying about $44 more a year in water and sewer fees to cover a $3.5 million settlement with investors of the defunct sludge plant on Quist Road.

The plant was supposed to dry sewage sludge and turn it into pellets that could be sold for fertilizer, but it never worked.

Thane said the sludge facility, shut down around 1997, is still intact.

“It was not gutted. It was walked away from,” Thane said.

“The equipment is still there and we should look at it and see if there’s a way that we can at least utilize it to some extent for the benefit of the city.”

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