The Saratoga County Water Authority sold a record amount of water in January, moving it closer to breaking even.
The authority sold an average of 5.6 million gallons a day, as the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant significantly increased its consumption of industrial process water.
“For a winter month, it’s definitely a record,” said authority Executive Director Ed Hernandez.
Authority Treasurer Kevin King said it’s probably a sales record, though there have been times when the system was being flushed that it has pumped more water.
Municipal water use historically is higher in the summer, and Hernandez said current sales levels mean sales could hit 8 million gallons or more this summer. That would be good financial news for the authority, which has required a subsidy from Saratoga County every year since its first full year of operation in 2011.
“If it continues for 12 months, we will be” self-sustaining, Hernandez said.
To date, the authority has taken a $250,000 subsidy from the county for 2015 and has authorization to take another $250,000, though authority Vice-Chairwoman Anita M. Daly indicated she hopes it will need less.
A business plan approved by county supervisors in 2007 allows the authority to borrow up to $4.8 million in its early years, until it builds enough sales volume to pay for itself. To date, the authority has borrowed about $3.3 million. The funds are loans the authority will have to pay back as it becomes profitable.
GlobalFoundries, which is the authority’s biggest customer, bought an average of 3.6 million gallons per day in January, up 500,000 gallons from December and twice what it bought in January 2014. The chipmaker is adding new manufacturing tools at its Fab 8 complex and increasing commercial production, both of which would be expected to increase its water use.
The water is used to rinse chips during the manufacturing process and for cooling equipment.
“As per our plan, the Fab 8 water use is continuing to increase as we ramp additional manufacturing activity,” said GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard.
Municipal customers of the authority, which bought between 162,000 and 623,000 gallons a day in January, include the towns of Ballston, Clifton Park, Wilton and Moreau and the village of Stillwater. The town of Malta also buys a small amount of water seasonally.
The $67 million water system draws water from the upper Hudson River in Moreau and pipes it 27 miles to the central part of the county.