Glenville and Scotia officials are interested in studying the feasibility of building their own sewage treatment plant.
Both communities discharge their wastewater to the city of Schenectady’s plant and are facing rising costs.
“It’s gotten to a point where it’s worth at least exploring,” said Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
Glenville’s payment to Schenectady, for example, has risen from $318,903 in 2009 to $455,000 this year. Scotia paid the city just a little more than $700,000 in 2011.
Koetzle expects expenses will continue to rise as the city’s plant is aging and needs upgrades.
“What’s clear to me is we cannot absorb the costs coming from the city of Schenectady. I can’t risk halting our development because they can’t handle our flow,” he said.
Koetzle and Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg met Thursday to discuss hiring a consultant to do a study.
A joint sewer project had been researched five years ago by Delaware Engineering, which concluded it would cost about $12 million and allow service to be extended to about 1,600 new properties. Finding a suitable site along the Mohawk River was identified as one challenge.
Scotia and Glenville officials decided at the time that building their own plant didn’t make financial sense. However, officials from both municipalities believe circumstances have changed since that study.
One difference is there has been additional development in Glenville since the last study, including the construction of Lowe’s and Target stores, and the possibility of more growth in Corporations Park and at the old Navy Depot that is being turned over to local authorities.
“It’s looking more and more like we would have the volume to make our own plant feasible,” Kastberg said.
If Glenville and Scotia do not go out on their own, Kastberg said, Schenectady’s facility may have to expand. Both communities are responsible for a portion of the costs of any upgrades to the city’s facility.
Another change, according to Kastberg, is improvements in technology at sewer plants.
“It’s much smaller, and what comes out of the plant is much cleaner than the old style,” he said.
Koetzle said a new plant would be more energy-efficient than Schenectady’s plant, which is continually being retrofitted. He added that perhaps Scotia and Glenville could bring on additional customers.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city hasn’t increased the fees it is charging Glenville and Scotia, but both communities are discharging more into the system. He wasn’t able to provide specifics.
McCarthy is looking to shift the plant from composting sludge outdoors to quick-drying the sludge indoors. However, he has said the technology costs about $6 million to implement.
Some parts of the treatment plant date back to the 1930s or earlier, according to McCarthy.
“It’s an aging facility,” he said. “It’s just like anything else, you have to do periodic upgrades to it. None of those things are cheap.”
Both the Glenville Town Board and Scotia Board of Trustees are likely to discuss the issue at their respective meetings on Wednesday.
Koetzle said he would like to see a consultant hired by late October or early November. He anticipated that it would be late winter before the study was completed.
Scotia is having its own issues with wastewater. The village is trying to negotiate a new contract with Schenectady.
The village in 2010 was hit with an extra $80,000 charge because it exceeded the limits for the amount of effluent it can discharge into the system.
Scotia is trying to get a handle on what is being discharged and is considering charging industrial sewer customers a different rate because they put more strain on the system.
“If you’re an industrial [customer] that’s dumping in high-potency effluent, you obviously should pay a little more than a homeowner that’s flushing their toilet three times a day,” he said.
The Board of Trustees on Wednesday voted to hire McDonald Engineering to study the village’s rate structure at a cost of no more than $15,246.