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Project Overview

The Town of Niskayuna partnered with Energy Systems Group (ESG), a leading energy services provider, to serve as the prime contractor of a multi-year project that will include improvements to its 3 million gallons per day (MGD) wastewater treatment plant. The new systems will improve treatment during storms and wet weather, ensuring the protection of the nearby Mohawk River. In addition to meeting New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) wet weather management obligations, the plant improvements will expand the plant’s treatment capacity to 3.5 MGD, positioning Niskayuna for future economic growth.

The initial stage of the project will center on meeting the NYSDEC wet weather management obligations which will ensure the facility effectively treats what enters it during storms and other “high flow” events. Future phases of work will include upgrades of major treatment processes and facility infrastructure. One aspect of the project will leverage the existing anaerobic digesters’ excess capacity to accept organic waste, produce additional biogas, and use it as fuel for onsite electricity production. The plant’s new ability to produce energy on-site will make it an energy net zero facility, and will create a new source of revenue for the town from the receipt of the organics.


Carbon Footprint Reduction

The new systems will improve treatment during storms and wet weather, ensuring the protection of the nearby Mohwak River. The plant upgrades will improve operational efficiency and reduce the wastewater treatment plant’s carbon footprint by incorporating renewable energy.


Key Installed Technologies

Improves stormwater management in primary clarifiers, which is one of the first stages of treatment

Construction Status: Completed

New high efficiency aeration blowers and fine bubble diffusers

Construction Status: Completed

Final stage of treatment before release to the Mohawk River, in compliance with NYSDEC requirements. New plant water system reduces use of drinking water for treatment process needs.

Construction Status: Completed

New primary electrical service for entire facility

Construction Status: Completed

Provides onsite power generation when service from the Electric Utility is lost, such as during a storm event.

Construction Status: Completed

Used methane gas from anaerobic digesters to heat oil, reducing natural gas use. The heated oil is used in the sludge dryer to reduce its moisture content.

Construction Status: To be completed in 2018

Provides new capability for acceptance of organic waste from the food processing industry. Creates a new source of revenue for Town and increase methane production in anaerobic digesters.

Construction Status: Completed

Major renewal of entire anaerobic digestion system, the key treatment process for wastewater biosolids. Includes all major elements of the system.

Construction Status: To be completed in 2019

Efficiency improvements for lighting and mechanical systems in plant buildings.

Construction Status: To be completed in 2018

Organics FAQ

Liquid organic materials, or organics, are the by-products of the creation of many food, beverage, and other biodegradable household products. Organics can also be by-products of the food and beverage distribution and service businesses. The following are a few examples of organics.  

Beverage companies generate organics when they get rid of expired product through a crushing process. When plastic bottles or aluminum cans are recycled, the expired product from the crushed containers is collected. The collected material is a potential organic. 

Hotels and restaurants have grease interceptors on their sewer lines. These interceptors collect fats, oils, and grease (FOG) before they enter the sewer system. The interceptors are periodically cleaned and the removed FOG is a potential organic. 

Food manufacturing plants occasionally overproduce based on their production schedule, or have batches that do not meet the production standard. This material is not packaged and is a potential organic.

As part of the existing wastewater treatment infrastructure, the plant has large tanks where anaerobic digestion occurs. Anaerobic digestion is a series of biological processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. Currently, the plant’s digesters help to break down municipal sludge that flows to the plant from the Town’s collection system. The digesters have excess unused capacity that the Town can use to process additional organics.

The treatment plant staff’s primary job is to ensure that the plant is compliant with its SPDES permit, which dictates the characteristics of the final treated effluent released into the Mohawk River. Potential organics are tested and determined to be appropriate and safe before they are accepted by the plant. Since this material is processed in the plant’s excess capacity, it will not have an adverse impact on the plant’s ability to meet the Town’s municipal treatment needs.  

The Town benefits in several ways from accepting and processing organics. The first way is that organics providers pay a fee to the Town for accepting and processing the material. This fee creates new sources of revenue to help defray the fixed costs of operating and maintaining the Town’s collection and treatment systems. The potential value of these fees is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Without this new potential revenue, all the costs associated with the plant would have to be covered by the Town’s ratepayers.

Second, accepting organics can drive economic development for the Town and the greater area. When looking to site a new production facility, food and beverage companies are attracted to regions where they can receive sufficient water supplies for their processes and can dispose of their organics in a cost-effective way. Niskayuna’s ability to provide these services can help bring new businesses and jobs to the Capital Region. 

Third, accepting organics increases the production of biogas in the plant’s anaerobic digesters. This biogas is captured and cleaned to provide fuel for the plant’s cogeneration system, which produces green energy to run the treatment plant. The plant will meet a significant portion of its electricity needs with power generated by organics. 

Energy Systems Group (ESG), the Town’s project partner for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project, will locate organics providers that are interested in disposing of their organics at the treatment plant. Their organics will be sampled and tested for acceptance appropriateness. This ensures that the organics will not negatively impact the plant’s treatment process.

ESG will then work with the Town’s staff to create a suitable contractual agreement for Niskayuna to accept the organics for an agreeable fee. The agreement’s terms will be reviewed and agreed to by both the Town and the organics provider. The Town, not ESG, will then make the decision of whether to execute the agreement with the organics provider.

Since the organics cannot enter the plant through the municipal collection system, they will arrive at the treatment plant by tanker truck and will be added directly into the anaerobic digesters for processing.

Organics will arrive at the plant in tanker trucks. The trucks will vary in size from 1,000 gallons to 5,000 gallons, and the number of trucks arriving at the facility will vary by day. All trucks will comply with New York State Motor Vehicle and Traffic Law. 

Deliveries for approved organics will be Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., which are the current operating hours when the plant is staffed.  

The Town will make the final determination. 

After construction is completed, ESG will work with the Town under an annual support services contract to provide a set of services focused on supporting the Town’s organics efforts. This contract covers things like customer coordination, operations support (but not on-site staffing), and logistics.

All revenue generated from accepting organics goes to the Town. ESG’s support services agreement is an annual fee and not directly connected to the revenue collected.  

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