Water Treatment Plant May Pump Up Area’s Economy

OSWEGO, NY – An underutilized wastewater treatment plant at the former Miller Brewery in Volney could help boost economic development in the region.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s Economic Development and Planning Committee, Austin Wheelock of Operating Oswego County introduced Mike Lorenz who represents a group that wants to purchase the wastewater treatment plant at Riverview Business Park, which is located at the former Miller Brewery site, in the warehouse portion

“They have an asset right now that is an underutilized wastewater treatment plant that is actually large enough to serve a city with a population of 350,000 people,” he said. “It’s a real shame to have an asset like that sit unused.”

“Over the last couple of years, we have been evaluating the feasibility of getting this plant operational so it can be a benefit to the community at large,” Lorenz explained.

There are three potential benefits coming from the plant, he said.

He believes the plant can provide wastewater treatment services at a lower cost, certainly in the long-term. It will also encourage and support economic development and growth. And, it would be environmentally beneficial because it has some capabilities and attributes that will solve some of the current issues that some of the area communities are challenged with the wastewater treatment issue currently, he added.

The plant can be converted to handle municipal wastewater, leachate, chemical, organic, industrial and special wastes, according to L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of OOC.

The plant has a capacity for five million gallons per day.

The facility has been inactive for a number of years, but was built to be “a very robust plant,” Lorenz noted.

“It is slightly outdated from a technology perspective. An investment would need to be made so that it could be brought up to speed,” he said. “But, it would be a minor one compared to what would be required to individually support individual facilities in the communities.”

The plant would be “a regional” asset, he said, adding it is about four times the size of the current Fulton plant.

They are approaching the project with an open mind. That way, he said, there is no predetermined outcome of who would own the plant, how it would operate, what the future potential would be; “all that needs to be evaluated.”

They are preparing an RFP (Request For Proposals) from engineering firms that are familiar with the issues that exist in Oswego County and get their input to evaluate whether this particular plant, if brought online, makes sense compared to some of the other alternatives.

“We have been meeting with representatives from Granby, Volney, Phoenix and Fulton and the greater Oswego community to see if there is any interest. Our first objective is to study the feasibility of it,” Lorenz said. “And then, from that perspective see if there is a potential for it to be utilized in some fashion, to support economic development in the county as well as perhaps deal with some of the existing challenges that are currently being dealt with at the Bristol (Hill) Landfill and some of the other related issues.”

It will take, probably $6 million to $8 million worth of investment to get the plant running, he said.

Right now the plant treats the stormwater discharge from the Riverview Business Park.

“That’s millions of gallons a year. That water is captured and it is stored and then released,” he said. “In order to be upgraded to a municipal wastewater plant it would have to be upgraded, that would take about 10 months to a year.”

“We are trying to approach the project from a number of angles to see which one makes sense,” Lorenz said. “The facilities that we have that are either vacant or underutilized as industrial facilities, some of the best uses we’ve identified are things that are in food production, manufacturing, dairy processing. The problem is that the wastewater system right now is fragmented. So, something, a project like this, would help to regionalize our wastewater infrastructure.”