A cleanout of sludge from the digester at the Saugerties sewer plant may explain the reduction in odors, trustee Donald Hackett said on Friday, May 5. Trustee Vincent Buono, who has raised the issue of odors from the plant on several occasions, agreed at the Village Board’s regular meeting on Monday, May 1 that the odors from the plant seem less intense, and periods of unpleasant odors have been reduced in recent months. Since multiple truckloads of sludge were removed from the digester, it has functioned as it should, with treated sludge running out with the wastewater, Hackett said at the meeting.
The real test will come later in the summer, when hot weather tends to increase the odors from the plant. Hackett and mayor Bill Murphy will be monitoring the discharges to be sure they are not increasing to severe levels. It is unlikely that the plant can be completely odor-free, Hackett said. “If you live near a sewer plant, some odor is inevitable, but the operators are working to minimize the odors.”
The plant was recently inspected as part of the renewal process for its State Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit. As a result, the state will require a number of upgrades, including an end to the discharge of chlorinated water and removal of several chemicals that are at levels below those considered dangerous, but that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says should not be present at all.
The engineering studies and upgrades will take several years, Hackett said. The village will be seeking grants from the state or federal government to help fund the upgrades, which the Village estimated at as much as $6 million several years ago. With some 1,200 users, the cost per customer would be prohibitive. Saugerties may be ahead of other municipalities in the very competitive application process for funding “because we have been looking into what we need, and that puts us ahead of other towns,” he said.