Saratoga County sewer commissioners are looking to declare an “emergency” to bypass normal bidding rules and replace a key operating component within the sewage treatment plant.
The commissioners voted Wednesday to award an emergency $83,600 engineering contract to Delaware Engineering of Albany to design a new sludge dewatering belt press.
The existing belt press, which was installed in 1977, is now so worn it’s in danger of breaking down permanently, district officials said. “It’s just so thin we can’t repair it anymore. It’s not safe,” said Grant Eaton, the district’s collection system manager.
Normally, the district would solicit proposals from several engineering firms, but the declaration means it can bypass that step. “This is the fastest way and cheapest way to get the thing done,” said Richard Doyle, chairman of the commission’s engineering committee.
The district is currently in the middle of a $3.1 million project to replace the sludge incinerator. Delaware Engineering is the project engineer for that and has done other engineering work for the district.
The belt press is a critical part of the sewage treatment process. It takes the solids collected during the treatment process and squeezes moisture out of them before the remaining sludge is then incinerated.
Because the incinerator is being replaced, the sewer district is currently paying what’s expected to total about $1 million to have dewatered sludge taken to a landfill. “This [emergency declaration] will save us having to haul liquid sludge,” said district Executive Director Chad Cooke.
The emergency declaration and engineering contract award still must be approved by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, which will probably act Feb. 26. Delaware will in the meantime work on designing the technical specifications for tbe new press.
Cooke said the new incinerator should be ready to start operational testing around the end of March, though it will still take a while to put into full operation.
Cooke also reported that early work on an $18.4 million construction project to install new sewers around Saratoga Lake is starting, and a new line being extended down routes 4 and 32 in Halfmoon that is also part of that contract is about 25 percent finished. The overall project will last into 2014.
A separate $713,000 contract to re-line about 2,000 feet of the district’s main trunk sewer in the town of Ballston, where the line’s interior has deteriorated, should start in March and be done by May, Cooke said.