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State awards $9.4 million to replace Lake George wastewater treatment plant

LAKE GEORGE — The governor’s office announced additional funding to the tune of $9.4 million on Sunday to help replace the village of Lake George’s wastewater treatment plant, according to a Fund for Lake George news release.

The funding announcement is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state of the state proposals. Cuomo will officially present his proposals on Wednesday to the Legislature.

“Lake George is a crown jewel of New York’s many beautiful lakes and waterways. This critical water infrastructure project will both ensure the continued health of the lake’s pristine waters and further economic growth throughout the region,” Gov. Cuomo said in a news release.

“New York is leading the way in protecting water quality, which is why the state is investing a historic $3 billion dollars to help municipalities address these challenges head-on.”

The grant funding comes in addition to a $3 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant and a DEC-funded $2.5 million Water Quality Improvement Project grant totaling state investment to $14.9 million.

The total cost of the project is estimated at about $24 million with funding coming from village, town, state and federal sources. As of mid-December, the village received about $7.25 million in grants to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

The state recently left funding out for the project during the announcement of the Regional Economic Development Council awards in December.

Lake George is under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to replace the 1930s-era plant because it releases an excessive amount of nitrates, which can cause algal blooms that degrade the water quality of the lake. The new plant must be operating by August 2021 to comply with the decree.

In June, village officials started negotiating with contractors with the low bid for the general contractor was Blue Herring Construction at $16.98 million. The plumbing bid went to R.F. Gordon Plumbing at $451,940.

In July, the Northern Border Regional Commission allocated $500,000 through its infrastructure investment program.

Elected officials, who include Lake George Mayor Robert Blais; Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury; U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury; and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, have been pushing for funding for the project.

The new plant will have a more modern and efficient process for treating waste giving operators a way to regulate the amount of oxygen in the tank. The new process will allow plant operators to decrease oxygen in the tank, so the bacteria will remove the nitrates.

It will use three sequencing batch reactors. When wastewater arrives at the plant, grit and particulates are screened out. Then the effluent is pumped to the reactors, which spin the effluent through multiple cycles and add biological matter and chemicals to treat the waste.

The treated water is sent by gravity to the lower sand beds and pumped to the upper pumps, and the sludge is removed.

When the sludge leaves the plant, it will have the consistency of a sponge cake and will be trucked to a Washington County compost facility.

Last month, the village of Lake George announced plans to change how it bills for sewer services by creating a separate sewer rate based upon use.

Residents currently pay for their sewer through the general village tax, which is based upon the assessed value of the property.

The goal is to implement the change for the next fiscal year, which begins in the spring. Blais said the general tax rate would go down and there would be a separate sewer charge, much like the water charge residents already pay.

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