New York counties partner to build biosolid waste facility

By New York State Energy Research and Development Authority | March 29, 2018

Albany and Saratoga County leaders announced an inter-municipal partnership on March 28 that allows for the establishment of a jointly-owned and operated regional biosolid waste facility. The two counties have authorized the creation of an agreement for the construction, operations and governance of the regional biosolids facility that allows the counties to move forward with this project and begin the preliminary design stage.

The facility, to be located in Menands in Albany County, will be equally shared in use and cost between the two counties and will be able to generate energy for a portion of its own consumption. Current project estimates suggest that total project costs would be approximately $45 million and each county will be saving more than $20 million over the next 20 years through this agreement.

Albany County spends approximately $2.2 million per year in biosolids handling operation between its two facilities. Aging infrastructure and regulatory compliance require the District to examine ways to continue to process biosolids in the most cost efficient manner possible and this agreement will provide the communities served by the District with substantial long term savings.

Currently, Saratoga County spends approximately $2 million per year to haul biosolid waste from their facility, a method which is unsustainable in the long-term. This agreement will save Saratoga County money that would have been spent constructing their own facility to manage this waste processing. After 20 years, it is anticipated that this facility will generate revenue for both counties.

This agreement can be a model for other governments throughout the state who could find ways to work with neighboring governments to provide what’s best for their residents at a shared cost. This project is expected to reduce significant amounts of carbon emissions and allow for the solids to be classified as a ‘Class B Solid’ by the USEPA, which can make them eligible for land application, instead of being directed for a landfill.

Final construction costs and timelines will be determined through the bidding process. The target release date for design request for proposals is June 2018, and this phase is anticipated to take one year.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided 50 percent of the funding for the initial feasibility study which determined that this project could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit both counties.

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “Albany County has long prided itself on innovation and providing our communities with sustainable infrastructure that not only provides us with cost savings but also with a greener, healthier environment for our communities to enjoy living in. Treatment plants such as those in Albany and Saratoga have done so much to improve the water quality of the Hudson River. This project is the next step in that process and will go a long way to provide cost savings through shared services for both counties.”

Ed Kinowski, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors said, “Saratoga County is the fastest growing county in New York State, and with that success comes the need to invest in upgrades to our infrastructure. This shared services partnership with Albany County allows both counties to meet the needs of residents and do so in a cost-effective way. For residents of Saratoga County this will help keep our sewer rates low, and continue to make our county the best place to live and work.”

Andrew Joyce, chairman of the Albany County Legislature said, “The Albany County Legislature has been collaborating for several months with Saratoga County to build the Regional Biosolids Facility, a shared-services initiative that would recycle biosolids, sewer sludge and food waste into methane gas that could be utilized for energy production. We’re excited to reach the approval part of this cost-savings project, which would be the first of its kind in the Capital Region.”

Gary W. Domalewicz, Albany County Legislature majority leader said, “The project would have many important environmental and economic advantages for Albany and Saratoga counties. It would divert waste from landfills, eliminate the need to haul waste, allow Albany County to decommission its sewage sludge incinerators and help us meet new sewage sludge regulations enacted by the state.”

Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA said, “I applaud Albany and Saratoga counties for demonstrating how local governments can work together to better serve their constituents while also reducing harmful emissions. Their leadership will help New York in its fight against climate change and will enable us to meet Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy goals.”

Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties said, “I applaud the innovation and environmental importance of this project. This regional green project will not only update wastewater treatment capabilities, but it will help divert food waste and other organic materials from the landfills within these counties and the greater capital district region. This is important because it will also generate renewable electricity while reducing fugitive methane emissions. I commend the leadership of Albany County Executive, Dan McCoy and Saratoga County Chairman, Ed Kinowski, as well as the Members of the County Legislative Boards from the two counties for their ongoing support of this important regional shared services initiative.”

Dan Rourke, executive director of Saratoga County Sewer District No. 1 said, “This state-of-the-art facility will improve our biosolid treatment process and reduce impact on the environment. By making these substantial upgrades to our infrastructure, we are better positioning Saratoga County for continued growth and doing so in an economically-efficient manner through this partnership with Albany County.”

Timothy S. Murphy, executive director of Albany County Water Purification District said, “A project of this magnitude comes about only through strong leadership from both counties. Both districts’ board of commissioners have a long history of advancing capital improvement projects at our plants in the most cost effective manner for our communities. The Albany County Legislature and the Saratoga Board of Supervisors requested both districts to advance studies that would promote efficiency and savings. Here in Albany, our County Executive Dan McCoy is always looking at efficiency in county departments while promoting a cleaner, safer, greener and a healthier environment for the residents of Albany County. This project meets all of those goals. The district is looking forward to a long term beneficial partnership with Saratoga County Sewer District by developing a Regional Biosolids Handling Facility that will meet the needs of our communities for a very long time.”