Saturday, June 25, 2022

LG’s $24-million wastewater treatment plant up & running

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

Lake George Mayor Bob Blais (left) especially credited the village’s Plant Operator Tim Shudt, for the seven-year effort that brought the new wastewater treatment plant to fruition.

Mayor Bob Blais organized a “photo op” Tuesday for Lake George Village’s new $24.6-million wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor Blais told the half-dozen media members, “The purpose of this today, we wanted to let people know that the plant, even though everything is not done from the exterior if you go by on the Northway, the plant is operational, working well and protecting our gorgeous lake.”

“Sometime in July we’ll have a ribbon cutting for the entire plant, we’ll give everyone tours, we’ll invite the public to come that afternoon and tour the plant and show you all the various buildings, take you through the process and invite obviously a lot of other people” including Governor Hochul, he said.

The mayor singled out for praise Tim Shudt, the Plant Operator. “This is his baby. He has watched this project from start to finish for seven years.”

Mr. Shudt, a village employee for 10 years, told The Chronicle, “Two to three years after I started, I started to notice all these nitrate violations. And I did some research and found that the previous operator was falsifying records. So once we disclosed that to DEC [NYS Department of Environmental Conservation], they put us under a consent order,” setting in motion this treatment plant.

“It’s been it’s been quite an adventure,” Mr. Shudt said. “It’s been a long process. A lot of ups and downs. It’s like living with your kitchen torn up for the last two years, if you can imagine that.” He said, “It’s an important project. It works great, and it’s going to protect the lake for years to come.”

Blais turned the new plant into a plea for all around the lake to step up.

“I’d like the people that have septic systems now that are considering whether or not you can afford to put in a new septic system if they need to, consider the commitment that the people in the village and town of Lake George have made to protect this lake. And ff they don’t get on our team, this is all for nothing.”

From left: Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais, Plant Operator Tim Shudt, Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, Lake George Association President Eric Siy and Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson, at Tuesday’s ‘photo op’ to highlight completion of the new wastewater treatment plant. Chronicle photo/Mark Frost

“So well said, that’s exactly right,” agreed Lake George Association president Eric Siy. “The Village and the Town are doing their part. Every septic system owner in the basin can do their part.”

Mr. Siy said, “This is a team effort, basinwide. And when we say bay-by-bay, the Lake George Association focus now is protecting Lake George bay by bay, my goodness, everybody’s got to step up and do their part. And if they need help financially, we [can help] find the funding.”

Mayor Blais said last year’s merger of the FUND for Lake George with the Lake George Association is great for the lake.

Mr. Siy said the wastewater treatment plant “is really the definition of teamwork, the definition of leadership, the definition of commitment to success.

“It’s been a long time coming, the tireless effort made…first and foremost, Mayor Blais, my goodness, there is no stronger champion of Lake George and this project, getting it done.

“Tim Shudt, his role is indescribable. This has been the focus of Tim’s work for years now. And we just can’t be more grateful…Thank you, and of course thank you to Dennis” Dickinson, the Lake George Town Supervisor.

Of the treatment project’s $24.6- million cost, New York State contributed $17.4-million, the federal government $500,000 and Warren County $750,000.

The mayor said, “When I went to Warren County and I asked them for assistance, they came in with $75,000 a year over the next 10 years,” the revenue from a parking lot the county owns in Lake George. “They didn’t have to do it. They did it…750,000 dollars, which helps the town and village taxpayers…”

Those taxpayers will defray the remaining $5.95 million of the project’s cost.

Lake George Village owns the plant, but Mayor Blais explained “the town has a sewage district which is outside the village, and they pump their septic into this plant…We have a contract with them.

“And they pay a great share of every part of this plant. And they participate with us 100% as they do in so many other projects.”

He said the treatment plant’s “impact on the village’s budget…because of our other revenue, will be minimal. We’ll be able to stay under the tax cap” but “fund $500,000 worth of debt” per year paying off the treatment plant.

He said they’ll know the impact on town tax sewer rates later this year, as the system settles into operating.

Mayor Blais said, “It’s miraculous to have a project this large and come in at budget, but it looks like we’re going to be very, very close.”

“How many gallons of water are you processing today compared to July 4?” Lake George Mirror editor Tony Hall asked.

“About half right now — it’s about 500,000 gallons a day, in July it’s around a million,” Mr. Shudt replied

He said the plant’s capacity is 1.75-million gallons per day.

“We’re in good shape for years to come,” said Mayor Blais.

Mr. Shudt told The Chronicle that his department employs six people currently.

“The plant’s going to tell us what it’s going to take to staff the plant. It may be one or two additional people might be needed,” Mr. Shudt said.

“We also maintain the entire collection system — the pump stations, not only for the village, but also for the town as well. We’re pretty aggressive with maintenance, because we don’t need any issues in Lake George, especially during the summer.”

Asked his annual budget, Mr. Shudt said, “It’s a little over a million dollars now. It’s up. It’s up around $300,000 or so. And we’re not 100% sure how much it’s going to cost to run this — until it runs.”

Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky repeated his view that the environment and the economy are “two sides of the same coin.” He

said the treatment plant’s added capacity will enable the economy to expand while the lake is much better protected.

Dennis Dickinson said the town is making good headway on the planned major project from the state’s Hearthstone Campground to the Lake George village line. It will install road, lights and improvements — plus a new sewer line to replace the small current line from Hearthstone, allowing use of it by property owners along the way.

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