Scrutiny of improvements to Warwick’s wastewater treatment plant was roused by questions from Matthew Sullivan at the Village Board of Trustees meeting last week. He had run for mayor this year on a platform that included infrastructure upgrades, contending that Village infrastructure was crumbling.
However, at the meeting he asked what had motivated wastewater plant modernization.
“The plant was basically antiquated,” said Mayor Michael Newhard. “With the amount of repairs it needed on a regular basis, it was like having a very old car. Suddenly it’s no longer sustainable because it costs so much.”
Even though the plant has met NYS Department of Environmental Conservation discharge standards, the equipment had become fragile, including the rotating biological contactors, said Deputy Mayor Barry Cheney.
“Major repair on those would have been $40,000 per unit. At that point in time we were seeing more of these fail. Back in 2011, we had seven out of the fifteen out of service,” he said. “We saw that it was necessary to probably do a major overhaul of the units and decided to take a look for other technologies that would provide us with the ability to upgrade the plant.”
Without upgrading the plant, units going out of service impact the ability to treat wastewater, increasing the likelihood of violating the Village’s permit conditions, said Cheney.
Sullivan then asked how this project would be funded.
According to Newhard, over the years, money has been put aside for an infrastructure fund that will cover project costs.
As of now, the estimated cost is $12 million, and the Village currently has $6 million.
“The plant is still in the design phase and once design is complete, which hopefully will be toward the end of this year, we will have a much better idea as to what the costs will be,” said Cheney.
Sullivan asked whether enough money was being saved for other infrastructure projects .
“It’s a fine balance. It would mean raising taxes and we are also trying to stay in our tax cap limit. We are trying to figure out what is the best way to refurbish, replenish and make sure those funds are available,” said Newhard. “It’s a difficult challenge, but not impossible.”
He noted the possibility of grants.
“At this point in time, the water treatment plant needs to be brought into the 21st century,” said Newhard.
Without upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, units going out of service impact the ability to treat wastewater, increasing the likelihood of violating the Village’s permit conditions. - Deputy Mayor Barry Cheney