The Saratoga County Water Authority wants a $1.6 million grant and loan package from the county Industrial Development Agency to help it construct a project meant to fix water quality issues.
IDA board members on Monday agreed to the concept, though details including how much of the money is a loan and how much is a grant need to be worked out in coming weeks.
Funding would come from the IDA’s surplus funds, which are supposed to be used for broad-based economic development projects.
“What we have here would benefit large portions of our community and economic development, so it falls within our purpose,” said IDA attorney Michael J. Toohey.
The $1.6 million would go toward design and construction of a discharge line for wastewater between the water treatment plant in Moreau and the Hudson River. The authority draws its water from the Hudson and pipes it to a treatment plant about a mile away.
The money would also cover installing aeration systems in two of the authority’s on-site storage tanks,
The authority doesn’t have another source of funding, Ed Hernandez, the authority’s acting executive director, told the IDA at a meeting Monday in Ballston Spa. He said the project will improve customer water quality, and that will benefit the county’s economic development efforts.
“It will improve the operations of the plant and the water quality,” Hernandez said.
The authority has had periodic problems with elevated levels of chlorination by-products in the water since 2011, the year after the treatment plant opened. Officials said the levels are due to chemical reactions between the chlorination and microscopic organic materials in the water.
Currently, wastewater from the water treatment process — which can contain higher levels of organic materials — is being recycled through the plant, Hernandez said.
If a discharge line, called an outfall, is built, that water could be returned to the Hudson River. He said the authority has already gotten a Department of Environmental Conservation discharge permit.
“Most water plants include an outfall, but an outfall was not included in this plant,” Hernandez said.
The project is being recommended by a technical group representing water users that has been studying the chlorination by-products problem, he said.
The authority currently produces about 3.5 millions of water per day, and is running a roughly $1 million per year deficit. It can’t afford to do the project itself, Hernandez said. The authority needs to sell 4.5 million to 5 million gallons a day to break even.
The authority is seeking a roughly $800,000 loan and $800,000 grant, but IDA board members talked about offering a smaller grant, along with a low-interest loan. A decision could come at the July 8 IDA meeting.
Any loan would be paid off as water sales increase, making the authority profitable. The GlobalFoundries computer chip plant, the authority’s biggest customer, is expected to significantly increase its 1.4 million gallon-per-day usage over the next year or so.
“We’re nowhere near even 50 percent of production at this point,” said Kevin McAuliffe, a lawyer for GlobalFoundries.
Other authority customers include the towns of Clifton Park, Wilton, Ballston and the village of Stillwater. The authority is negotiating for sales to the towns of Moreau and Greenfield.
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