New equipment lightens the load at Glasco sewer plant

Sewer plant chief operator Andy McBride with the new belt press (photo by David Gordon)

Sewer plant chief operator Andy McBride with the new belt press (photo by David Gordon)

A sewer plant is one big living organism,” said Andy McBride, the Glasco Water and Sewer District’s chief operator. The machinery in it grinds up the sludge to make it easier for the bacteria to do their work, settles out the solids and sends purified water to the river and solids to the landfill.

Machinery in the plant had been plagued by frequent breakdowns, and parts for the old digester were no longer available. The Town Board voted in February to authorize the borrowing of up to $820,000 to make the needed repairs to the sewer plant, including the belt press, a conveyor and a portable generator. Part of the cost will be offset by a federal grant. The low bid on the work, by J. Square Construction of Voorheesville, was $478,000. The price also includes replacement of the worn-out doors on the plant building.


The installation of the new machinery started in August, McBride said. It was completed last week, and the installation still must be approved by the manufacturer. The machine goes on line on Nov. 25.

Water enters the system at the top of a steep hill, where solid material sinks to the bottom of a settling tank. While motors drive the mechanisms that stir the water and collect impurities, the water moves from stage to stage by gravity, McBride said. There’s also a motor in the digester, which pumps the water out to the river. “Otherwise it’s all done by gravity.”

Wastewater goes through a sludge grinder, then into the settling tank. The solids that settle in that tank get put in the digester. These solids go through the belt press. The liquid that passes through goes down through trickling filters, which are an optimum area for bacteria to live and eat the waste. After the trickling filters the water goes through settling tanks, “which is one more chance for anything we missed to be removed,” McBride said. A belt press squeezes the water out of the collected solids, using rollers that squeeze the debris with increasing pressure, removing most of the liquid. The solids are loaded into trucks bound for a landfill. The water is disinfected and piped into the river. The solids squeezed out by the belt press go to a landfill.

“With the new press, we can fill the truck [with solid waste] in three hours. It used to take a day and a half,” McBride said. “It’s a lot cleaner, too.” The new machine is also 50 percent bigger than the previous one.

In the digester, air is blown through the water to provide oxygen for optimum growth of the bacteria that consume the garbage, converting it to a manageable substance. “It’s a natural process, but the blowers speed it up. I like to say it’s Mother Nature on steroids,” McBride said. “The natural bacteria that’s in the waste gets a boost.”

The plant is run with four full-time employees, McBride said. The new machinery won’t reduce the number of employees, but “it will give us more time to do other important things. There’s always stuff to do.”