The City of Oneida is undertaking a multiyear project to design and implement long-term improvements at the Harden Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. The design phase of the project began in May 2019, and construction commenced in the spring of 2021. The new improvements will 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 will also fully revitalize 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.
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 will 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.
The primary purpose of the project is to address the consent order issued by NYSDEC. The project will satisfy the consent order, and it will also ensure permit compliance over the long term by making sure that critical equipment and processes function optimally.
Local businesses need a reliable place to take waste and leftover materials from industrial processes. The project will enable the plant to properly process these wastes, ensuring that businesses have this reliable location. By providing a dependable location for waste disposal, the project will allow local businesses to continue to build on their presence in the community.
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.
In addition to retaining local business, the project will allow the City of Oneida to diversify its customer base. The City currently has a limited number of utility users, but the added waste processing capacity the project provides will allow 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.
The City is taking 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.
Pole Barns Substantial Completion
New Dewatering System Operational
New Emergency Generator Substantial Completion
New Secondary Clarifiers Operational
Scheduled End of Construction *(Photo from November 2022)