Mayor Chris Neville at a Groton Village Board of Trustees meeting on July 20.

Mayor Chris Neville at a Groton Village Board of Trustees meeting on July 20.

 

After receiving complaints from residents regarding the smell being emitted from the village’s wastewater treatment plant, an inspection revealed that there is a large backpile of biosolids – or sewer sludge – located in the plant’s drain beds.

At a Village Board of Trustees meeting on July 20, Mayor Chris Neville said there is somewhere between 300 and 500 tons of biosolids in the drain beds at the moment. Neville proposed that the board apply for permits to landspread the waste.

If it were to attain the necessary permits, the village would spread the biosolids along approximately 250 acres of land located between Old Stage Road and Route 222. Neville said he is not worried about any environmental impacts of landspreading the biosolids.

“I don’t think there’s really a lot of engineering [put] into it, because we’re already doing the engineering part down at the wastewater treatment plant,” Neville said. “We have daily records of what the chemicals or the iron or whatever is in this, and I understand that there’s different classes of biosolids that you can get rid of.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has specific regulations for where materials like biosolids can be spread due to potential risks to the health of humans, the land’s soil and the environment overall. According to the NYSDEC, “the greatest potential risks to human health and the environment can occur with the direct land application of biosolids and septage due to contact with disease bearing mirco-organisms known as pathogens.”

Alvin Howell, the operator of the wastewater treatment plant, said the sludge that would be placed on the land does not contain any harmful substances.

“There’s nothing but biosolids in there,” Howell said. “There’s no toxics, no type of hazard material that might be spread on the land that may cause aquifer corruption.”

Howell also said the proposed area for spreading the biosolids would not present any obstacles.

“It’s way out in the middle,” he said. “There’s no pricks and wells that could be disruptive with this project.”

The costs of performing such a landspreading project would not be cheap for the village. Neville said it would cost about $30,000 to remove 400 tons of biosolids, which would be $5,000 more than the yearly average the village spends removing such materials.

However, there is a solution. Neville suggested that the village should invest in a spreader that it would own itself, which would reduce the costs of the project greatly.

“I think we could literally get the costs of this down from being about $30,000 a year down this summer in the ballpark of probably three to five thousand dollars a year for the village,” Neville said. “That’s a significant savings.”

The board concluded the meeting with the intent of filling out an application for a pre-meeting with individuals from the NYSDEC to discuss the proper course of action for such a project and what the village can do in the immediate future to mitigate the issue temporarily.

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