In the hope of reducing costs, the members of the Joint Sewer Board of the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility have decided to go out for a second round of bids for a multimillion-dollar upgrade project at the plant.
New bids for the project are due to be opened April 15.
Plant Manager George Bevington said the sewer board conducted a special meeting last week to look at bids requested Feb. 19 for the upgrade project, which would build a new treatment system called “dissolved air flotation,” install new dewatering equipment and co-generation engines at the plant and replace its 90,000-gallon whey storage tank with a 200,000-gallon tank. He said the low bids for the different components of the project totaled approximately $5.2 million, including a $4.3 million general construction bid from Blue Heron Construction of Weedsport, a $280,000 bid for heating construction from General Mechanical of Halfmoon, a $646,000 bid for electrical work from Gross Electrical of Queensbury and a $64,690 bid for plumbing work from Adirondack Plumbing of Broadalbin.
Bevington said board members believe they can get a better general contractor price by going out to bid again. He said the terms of a $2.2 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant awarded to help pay for the project also require at least two bids for every part of the project and there was only one bid for heating.
“Supposedly contractors are hungry right now, but this project might be too big for smaller contractors, it might be too small for bigger contractors, so it might just be an in-between project,” Bevington said. “And possibly the bid opening was scheduled when another wastewater plant’s bids were being opened, so we’re hopefully hitting a better cycle right now.”
Officials said the wastewater treatment plant needs to be upgraded to accommodate dairy production waste from the Fage U.S.A. yogurt plant and the Euphrates cheese manufacturing plant, both located in the Johnstown Industrial Park.
Bevington said the wastewater treatment plant’s 90,000-gallon whey storage tank won’t be enough to accommodate anticipated growth at those plants.
“It’s not overflowing now, but there are operational difficulties. You want a larger tank. They discharge Monday through Friday. We need to treat that over seven days, so we need storage to make it through the two- or three-day weekends,” Bevington said.
In addition to the USEDA grant, the wastewater treatment plant has also received a $1.4 million grant for the project from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority because of the clean energy the plant will be able to generate using the treated whey.
“It gets pumped to our digester for treatment, where we make biogas out of it and help generate electricity at our plant,” Bevington said.
The city of Johnstown is expected to issue municipal bonds to pay for the remainder of the project’s costs after application of the two grants. Bevington said he’s also looking to apply for grant money for green projects from the $787 billion federal stimulus package.