A recurring problem with water quality will be addressed by spending $4 million to $6 million on a new carbon filtration system, Saratoga County Water Authority officials said Thursday.
They laid out a plan to have a granular activated carbon system installed at the county water treatment plant in Moreau by the end of the year to eliminate a problem with high levels of chlorine disinfection byproducts.
“We’ve got a solution. We’ve tested it. It looks like an effective solution,” said authority Chairman John E. Lawler, R-Waterford.
Carbon filtration proved to be the most effective of three technologies tested in recent months, said authority acting Executive Director Ed Hernandez. He said the disinfection byproducts were reduced almost to nothing by the granular carbon system.
The new cost estimate is lower than one in January, when the authority thought a combination of technologies costing $10 million might be needed. The money will be borrowed.
The cost will work out to between 27 cents and 32 cents per 1,000 gallons of water, starting in 2015. Lawler said he’s hopeful the authority can absorb the cost through increased water sales without passing the cost on to customers in higher rates.
The project’s goal is to reduce elevated levels of haloacetic acids and other organic acids, which form over time from chemical reactions when chlorinated water has organic materials in it. The authority’s water exceeded the federal standard of 60 parts per billion in 2011, then again last summer, but levels are currently well below the federal threshold.
Levels rise in the summer because more decayed plant materials are in the raw water taken from the Hudson River during warm weather, officials believe. Some is removed through standard filtration, and officials believe most of the remainder will be removed by the carbon filters.
The high readings caused two customers, the towns of Ballston and Clifton Park, to stop buying water, causing at least 650,000 gallons per day in lost sales. Lawler said the authority isn’t currently pushing those communities to return as customers, but believes its water is acceptable and its contracts with both towns remain in full force.
The towns have said they want to continue buying water from the authority, but also want to see a long-term solution to the problem.
Hernandez said the carbon filtration system won’t require any increase in staffing at the treatment plant.
The schedule laid out Thursday calls for awarding construction contracts in May and finishing construction by the end of the year.
The authority began operating in 2010, bringing water to the central part of the county through a 27-mile pipeline from Moreau. Customers include the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant; the towns of Wilton, Ballston, Clifton Park and Moreau; and the village of Stillwater.
Separately, the authority plans to build a pipeline that will discharge filtration flushings at the treatment plant back into the Hudson instead of recycling them through the plant. That project will cost $1.5 million and is being paid for by a loan and grant from the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency, but is currently waiting for regulatory approvals.