Saratoga County sewer commissioners will move forward with plans for a new sewage treatment plant in Northumberland to serve the Saratoga Springs-Wilton area.
They voted Wednesday to request engineering design and construction supervision proposals, with the goal of completing the estimated $64 million project by 2017. The cost would be borne by sewer district users.
Without the new plant, officials said, the county sewer district could be forced to impose a moratorium on new development in Saratoga Springs, which has several new commercial projects under way in the downtown area.
“We don’t want to put a moratorium on,” said sewer commission Chairman William Davis.
Currently, wastewater from the city is pumped to the county sewage treatment plant in Halfmoon. But the trunk sewer out of the city can handle only 13 million gallons per day, and at peak times, the city — combined with the town of Wilton — already produce nearly that much.
“I would say 13 million gallons is about the capacity,” said sewer district Executive Director Chad Cooke.
A moratorium would address the situation by stopping anyone from adding more hotels, apartments or other projects that will increase sewage flow to the point that the line overflows.
“I’m worried about an environmental disaster coming out of Saratoga,” Davis said.
Under a plan first conceived three years ago, sewage from Saratoga Springs and Wilton would be diverted to a new plant in the northern part of the county, with larger-capacity pipes being used so those communities could continue to grow.
The move would also free up capacity in the Halfmoon plant, county officials have noted, allowing more development in the southern part of the county. The GlobalFoundries computer chip plant is among the big users there, and is still expanding.
The county landfill site in Northumberland was identified last year as the potential site for a new plant, and the district reached an agreement with the county to buy 16 acres for $98,580.
Delaware Engineering of Albany, in a report commissioners received Wednesday, said the new plant project would cost about $64 million. That estimate includes $27 million for a 10 million gallon-per-day treatment plant and another $27 million for 13 miles of sewer line connecting the city to the Northumberland site.
Delaware Engineering project manager Ed Hernandez said a 10 million-gallon plant is rated for 10 million gallons of average flow but has the capacity to treat more in peak periods, and would be large enough to handle all wastewater being generated from Saratoga Springs and Wilton. Also, in emergency situations, at least some of the sewage could be switched to flow south to the existing treatment plant
On a daily basis, the city produces as little as 3 million gallons, but it reaches the 13 million figure when there’s heavy rain during the peak tourist season. The city, with aging municipal sewer lines, has a long history of rainwater and snow melt getting into its sewer lines.
Even if there’s no district-imposed moratorium, commissioners think the city needs to work more closely with them to be sure there’s enough sewage capacity to handle the large commercial projects now being proposed in the city.
“Even if we move forward as fast as possible, it will be four years, and to me that’s a red flag,” said commissioner George Cannon of Saratoga Springs.
The Halfmoon plant, built in the 1970s, is operating at only about half of its 43 million gallon-a-day capacity, but has no room for further expansion.