The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 23, 2012

Sewage savings expected: Changes at plant to cut costs by $200G

JOHNSTOWN — Some major changes in operations at the Johnstown Regional Sewage plant at Dornick Point will save the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority more than $200,000 next year, project manager Frank D’Ettorre said.

“I give a lot of credit to the guys at the plant,” D’Ettorre said last week during the authority meeting.

“A lot of this is simply because they are watching it very closely.”

That’s the good news.

The bad news is revenues will be remain down nearly $1 million next year.

“Last year we were not permitted to accept any gas well waste (water) anymore,” D’Ettorre told The Tribune-Democrat.

“The trucks used to bring it to the plant and we’d process it.”

Treating brine and frack water produced in gas well drilling was bringing in $500,000 a year until the state Department of Environmental Protection put a stop to it, D’Ettorre said.

Water conservation measures and declining population have whacked another $300,000 in revenue from sewage bills, which are based on water bills.

Much of the savings on the expense side centered on a change in the source of liquid oxygen used in the treatment process.

Previously, D’Ettorre said, the plant workers produced their own oxygen, but it was determined the cost of production was higher than the product could be purchased for.

Buying the tanks of oxygen will save more than $100,000, including $24,000 in electricity costs, D’Ettorre said.

Rebidding the chlorine contract and being more efficient in use of lime to stabilize sludge cut $66,000 from the projected expenses.

Ironically, the DEP crackdown on frack water and brine water has opened the way for the redevelopment authority’s newest project: A proposed industrial wastewater treatment facility in the Minersdale area.

Aspen Johnstown LLC has proposed a treatment facility that will purify drilling water by removing both contaminants and salt, cleaning it to near drinking-water standards.

Solids removed will be safe for landfills, and some products have commercial value.

Site work is under way for a pilot plant to be built just off Iron Street, with plans for a full operation on 50 acres of authority-owned nearby land, known as the Rosedale Tract and Lower Ore Yard.

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