Gloversville council OKs $5.1M water project

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize borrowing $5.1 million for a major upgrade project for the city’s more than 80-year-old water filtration system.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said Gloversville has excellent water and a lot of it, but upgrades to the filtration system are long overdue.
“This upgrade will have a 40-year life expectancy,” he said of the upgrade.
Gloversville Water Superintendent Anthony Mendetta said the city completed an engineering study of the water system in July and used that as the basis for the proposed project. He said Gloversville is applying for a $3 million grant from a $400 million fund created by the New York state Water Infrastructure Improvement Act to help pay for 60% of the upgrade project, with the city bonding for the remaining $2 million. He said the grant application is due to the state by Nov. 22.
“The scope of the work covers a variety of water improvements to our filtration plant as well as our distribution system,” Mendetta said.
Mendetta said Gloversville’s water filtration system was originally designed for the high volumes of water and harsh chemicals used in the leather industry, and on a daily basis is capable of producing about 12 million gallons of treated water, while city water users only consume less than 2 million gallons. He said Gloversville’s treated water capacity was on display recently when the city of Johnstown had two major water leaks.
“We supplied Johnstown while they had those leaks going on, about four-and-a-half million gallons,” he said.
But, although it is rich in capacity, Mendetta said Gloversville’s water filtration system also still uses manual valves, has a badly deteriorating 1939-vintage concrete “flocculation and sedimentation chamber”, and until very recently there was no internet connection at the city’s water filtration plant on Norboro Road in the town of Johnstown, preventing the installation of a modern SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system to monitor chemical levels throughout the system in real time.
Mendetta said currently Gloversville’s water filtration plant does between two and three “washes” through the filtration system per hour, with each wash going through the city’s filtration system over a six to eight hour period. He said each time a wash is initiated a water department worker must manually turn handles to start the process. He said an electric system controlled by an internet-connected SCADA system will have significant advantages.
“It’ll be like a push-button, and also has the capabilities of a Bluetooth as well,” he said. “It’ll be to our advantage to be able to get this SCADA system in here to kind of see what’s going on with our turbidity (water clarity) and different things like that, while the washes are going on, because that’s important, too.”
Another part of the upgrade project will include construction of a new above ground water pumping “booster station” to be built next to the 2 million water tank on Eagle Street. Mendetta said the engineering study done on the city’s water system showed it needs to improve water pressure in certain areas of the system, such as these streets: Wells Street, South Eagle Street, Grandview Drive, Raven Street, Robin Street and Clyde Street.
“This is to target the state’s minimum water pressure, which is 35 PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) or more,” he said. “And, basically, right now we have a pump station that’s located on Grandview Drive, which is an underground pump section, and the [New York state] Department of Health would like to see that go away and just put in a booster pump station. So, included in this project for this funding would be that potential for that booster pump station.”
Mendetta described the current water pressure in the area targeted by the improvement project.
“Some parts of South Eagle Street and Wall Street, they’re a little bit below 30 PSI,” he said. “It’s pretty close — but like I said, we have that pump station on Grandview Drive, so that’s pumping, you know, plenty of pressure, between 60-70 pounds up there, but the Department of Health doesn’t really want us to have that in the ground anymore, so they would like to see us have some sort of booster pump station that’s above ground, and they would like to see us put it at our Eagle Street pump station.”
Mendetta said he’s unsure if the typical water user in Gloversville will notice a difference after the improvements are made, but would eventually notice if the upgrades aren’t completed.
“I think it will really just improve water quality, not that we have bad water quality now, but it will make our jobs a little bit easier to monitor the different things that help with water quality and things like that,” he said. “And, especially like the conditioner flocculation chamber — that’s a very critical piece of infrastructure in the water treatment process — if that fails, that’s not good. So, we’re really hoping to be able to get this covered [by the state grant program], so we can get that upgraded.”
Mendetta said he’s hopeful the state funding will be announced in March of 2022, after which there will be a design phase and he anticipates construction can begin towards the end of 2022 into the early part of 2023.

By Jason Subik

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