City of Oneida, New York

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center (OWRRC)


The City of Oneida initiated a multiyear project to design and implement long-term improvements at the Harden Road Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2019. The design phase of the project began in May of that year, and construction commenced in the spring of 2021. The new improvements address the requirements of a consent order issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2016. In addition to addressing the consent order, the project also fully revitalized the Harden Road facility, positioning it as an Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center (OWRRC). The project includes improvements to the plant’s organic waste loading processes, its solids processing equipment, and the existing aeration basins and secondary clarifiers. The City selected Energy Systems Group (ESG) as the contractor for the project.

Site Update Video - Nov 2022

Project Scope

The project’s scope includes improvements to nearly every treatment process, creating a fully modernized facility that meets the State’s current regulatory requirements for the next generation. These improvements allow the City to fully address the NYSDEC Consent Order which the Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently under. The project also includes new electrical service, including emergency backup, for the whole facility. In addition, a new plant-wide control system, WiFi, and security is being installed.

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center - Secondary Clarifiers - Nov 2022

On the “liquid side” of the OWRRC, the aeration system is being expanded and new secondary clarifiers are being constructed. These measures increase the plant’s treatment capacity to support future economic development and improve treatment efficiency.

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center - Digester Construction - Nov 2022

On the “solids side” of the OWRRC, a new anaerobic digester complex is being constructed, which includes a dedicated receiving facility for high strength organics such as food waste. In addition, the biosolids processing systems is being improved for operational efficiency.


Permit Compliance

The primary purpose of the project is to address the consent order issued by NYSDEC. The project satisfies the consent order, and it also ensures permit compliance over the long term, making sure that critical equipment and processes function optimally.

Business Retention

Local businesses need a reliable place to take waste and leftover materials from industrial processes. The project enables the plant to properly process these wastes, ensuring that businesses have this reliable location. By providing a dependable location for waste disposal, the project allows local businesses to continue to build on their presence in the community.

Smart Operation and Capital Cost Management

In addition to achieving consent order compliance, the project ensures that upgraded systems are efficient and that costs are reduced where possible. During the development process, aspects of the operating budget — chemicals, energy, biosolids, and maintenance — were examined to see where improvements to practices or infrastructure could be carried out. This smart operation and capital cost management approach ensured that no stone was left unturned when it comes to managing costs at the OWRRC.

Expansion of Traditional Customer Base & Revenue Diversity

In addition to retaining local business, the project allows the City of Oneida to diversify its customer base. Previously, the City had a limited number of utility users, but the added waste processing capacity the project provides allows new businesses and customers to deliver high strength organic waste (HSOW) to the facility. These new customers represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the City.

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center - Construction May 2022

City of Oneida / OWRRC

Project Delivery

The City used an innovative approach to implementing the project — an energy performance contract. First enacted into law in New York in 1985, this method for delivering projects was traditionally used for buildings that needed system renovations to improve operational efficiency. Over the past decade, municipalities have expanded its use for other infrastructure including streetlights, water meters, and water and wastewater treatment plants. This project delivery method provides several benefits for the City of Oneida.

Single Point of Responsibility: For a project like this, traditionally the City would hire an engineering firm to design the project then bid and award the construction work to multiple prime contractors (typically four) to be in compliance with Section 135 of the New York State Finance Law, commonly known as the “Wicks Law.” For the City, this would mean additional coordination responsibilities, the risk of finger pointing when mistakes occur, and increased contract administration expenses. An energy performance contract does not require compliance with Wicks Law, allowing the City to hire a single company to be the prime contractor for the entire project, which will streamline coordination and management for the City.

Price Protection: In an energy performance contract, the construction price is agreed upon by the City and the prime contractor before the energy performance contract is approved by the City. This upfront pricing avoids the price uncertainty between the engineer’s price estimate and the actual contractor bid prices that arises in the traditional municipal procurement process. In addition, the risk of costly change orders, common in the traditional project procurement process, is minimized because the engineer is a subcontractor to the prime contractor delivering the energy performance contract and not to the City. This transfers the design responsibility and the associated risk. The City will negotiate a construction scope knowing the agreed upon price will not increase because of design issues.

Accelerated Schedule: As part of the consent order from NYSDEC, the City must be in compliance with the order by an agreed upon date. Energy performance contracting provides flexible techniques such as phased contracting, early equipment procurement, and construction shop drawings created during design that can save months on the construction schedule, save the City money, and ensure that it meets its compliance dates.


The City’s project delivery model allows it to meet its consent order requirements on time. The design phase of the project began in May 2019, and construction started in the spring of 2021.

Project Schedule



Design Started

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center - Design Render and Animation



Construction Started

Organics and Water Resource Recovery Center - Start of Construction Spring 2021



Pole Barns Substantial Completion

Pole Barns Completed - August 2021



New Dewatering System Operational

New Dewatering Belt Filter Press



New Emergency Generator Substantial Completion

New Emergency Generator Operational



New Secondary Clarifiers Operational

New Secondary Clarifiers Operational



Broadway Street Pump Station Substantial Completion

a.	Broadway Street Pump Station Substantial Completion - Dec 2022



Substantial Completions January 2023

Substantial Completions - Jan 2023



Grit Systems Substantial Completion March 2023

Grit Systems Substantial Completion



Substantial Completions April 2023

April 2023 project updates



Substantial Completions May 2023

Project Updates May 2023



Scheduled End of Construction *(Photo from November 2022)

Overall Project Site