June 2, 2013

Essex has stealth treatment plant

ESSEX — Passing a barn with a quaint farmhouse beside it, no one would guess those structures conceal the Town of Essex’s cutting-edge Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The $11.7 million facility, with its tracking solar array, doesn’t even look like a sewage plant from nearby Route 22.

“The barn is where the treatment process occurs, using a sequencing batch-reactor to treat the sewage,” Essex Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen said.

“An ultraviolet light provides a final level of disinfection prior to the discharge back to Lake Champlain.”

The award-winning plant produces its own power to process the town’s wastewater using state-of-the-art treatment systems.


The facility won the Adirondack Park Excellence In Design Competition in the Public and Semi-Public Buildings category this year. The annual multi-agency award was given to Boisen at the Local Government Day conference in Lake Placid.

Most people driving by the plant catch only a glimpse of what they were expecting to see anyway in a historic Adirondack community like Essex, Boisen said.

“Visitors have no idea how this barn and farmhouse are affecting the beautiful lake that’s just a quarter mile in front of you.”

She said the farmhouse-style structure houses a laboratory, aeration equipment, chemical-treatment equipment, automatic-sampling equipment, pumps, piping, an emergency generator and an office full of computerized control equipment.


Plant Operator Tina Gardner presides over all this, even controlling some functions and getting equipment alarms from a smart phone she carries at all times.

“We generate the power to run the plant. All the pumps are on variable speed drives to save energy. The blowers have auto-shutoff so they don’t run constantly.”

She said that before the solar array — which is both roof- and ground-mounted — was installed, they had a $1,000 electric bill one month.

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