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North Country Regional Economic Development Council and NYSERDA Announce Watertown Wastewater Treatment Plant Project to Reduce Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Wastewater Treatment Plant Modifications Projected to Save the City More than $250,000 Annually
(July 24, 2013)

North Country Regional Economic Development Council and NYSERDA Announce Watertown Wastewater Treatment Plant Project to Reduce Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) today announced that the City of Watertown is initiating an energy-saving process improvement project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project is moving forward on the strength of $585,000 awarded through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council Initiative.

The project, which is receiving the funds from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will ultimately include plant modifications that transform the city’s current sewage sludge disposal processes, reduce consumption of fossil fuels, increase biogas produced by the plant’s anaerobic digesters and reduce the volume of solid waste disposed at the regional landfill.

The plant modifications are expected to save the city more than $250,000 annually through a combination of electricity savings and reduction in fuel oil consumption. The project would eliminate the need for the city to purchase more than 28,000 gallons of fuel oil per year.

“Our regional plan recognizes the economic importance of greener, cleaner processes, from business operations to wastewater treatment plants,” said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Council. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the City of Watertown, we will now have yet another project in the North Country that highlights the possibilities and implements the vision. Congratulations to Mayor Graham and the City.”

“The North Country Regional Economic Development Council identified ways to capitalize on the region’s assets and to build one of the greenest energy economies in the State,” said Anthony G. Collins, President of Clarkson University and North Country Regional Council Co-Chair. “Projects like this recognize that we need to invest in clean-energy sources as well as address an aging infrastructure to support additional development. I commend the City of Watertown for its commitment to environmental awareness and fiscal responsibility that benefits the entire community and drives new job growth.”

NYSERDA funding will cover the preliminary design and final design phase engineering services, including conceptual layout, product marketing, preparation of a preliminary design report and final design and preparation of documents.

Upon design completion, plant modifications will include replacing the existing sewage sludge incinerator with enhanced anaerobic digestion. The process will also eliminate the need for auxiliary fuel at the incinerator and the hauling of incinerator ash residue to the landfill.

Anaerobic digestion is a clean-energy process that produces biogas, which can be used to generate electricity or other sources of power. Organic waste is placed in a sealed container and broken down by bacteria into a biogas predominately comprised of methane, the primary constituent of natural gas.

“The modifications being undertaken at the Watertown Wastewater Treatment Plant are a valuable investment in Watertown’s energy future. Anaerobic digestion projects can assist municipalities across New York State in realizing significant energy and cost savings while engaging in a cleaner and more efficient disposal of solid waste,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Projects that benefit the environment while simultaneously helping the economy are at the center of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to ensure New York remains a leader in a clean-energy economy.”

“The City of Watertown is grateful to our Governor who conceived the mechanism, to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council that charted the path, and to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for providing the means by which our project can now proceed from mere conception to final design and requisite regulatory approvals,” said Watertown Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham. “The City of Watertown is, like everyone else, caught in the grips of profound financial stress. But for the assistance provided, our project simply would not have moved forward. When ultimately completed, the project will significantly reduce Watertown’s Wastewater Treatment Plant’s carbon footprint by eliminating incinerator air emissions and fuel oil consumption, enhancing digester natural gas production nearly 10-fold, and reducing total electrical demand of the wastewater facility on the North Country Regional Grid by approximately 25 percent.”

Assemblywoman Addie Russell said, “NYSERDA’s investment in the City of Watertown’s wastewater treatment facility is very good news. Not only will the city be able to realize energy cost savings, the employment of new green technology for sludge disposal will reduce the volume of solid waste disposal. The City of Watertown will become a leader in green technology use in the State of New York. I want to commend NYSERDA for making this investment.”

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s efforts to spur economic development and job creation across New York State. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 REDCs to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships composed of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The REDCs have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. As a result of the first two rounds of competitive awards, the State is supporting more than 1,450 regionally significant economic development and community revitalization projects that are creating new jobs for New Yorkers and generating investments that grow our economy. For more information on the Regional Councils, please visit