“The solar panels saved a lot. We had a 79-cent power bill one month now.”
At one side of the plant, reed beds filter some of the wastewater.
“The reed beds remove the metals, move solids,” Gardner said. “The reeds help break it down. It’ll be 10 years here before we (have to) remove the sludge from the reed beds.”
The plant has permitting for 65,000 gallons a day, she said, but normally processes about 15,000 gallons in the summer and 8,000 in the winter when fewer people are in town.
The entire facility was designed by AES Northeast of Plattsburgh, which, Boisen said, did a terrific job.
James Dougan, business and construction manager of AES Northeast, said his firm knew the facility had to reflect Essex itself.
“The plant needed to fit into the community, be as low-cost as possible to run and still effectively treat the town’s sewage during both the busy summer months and very slow winter months,” he said by email.
“The town board and many, many, town residents were heavily invested and involved in this project from start to finish, and many of the meetings held were filled with spirited discussion as all involved worked hard to get a project that met the community’s overall needs.”
Dougan said they’re very pleased at AES that Essex got the award.
“We continue to be thankful to the town for trusting our firm to assist them in completing a much-needed project.”
The town is fortunate that much of the cost of the wastewater system was funded by the state and federal governments, Boisen said.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development gave the town $3.6 million in a federal stimulus grant and $1 million in a long-term loan, the State Environmental Facilities Corp. awarded $5.3 million in federal stimulus money and a $900,000 loan, and the town received $1 million from the State Department of Environmental Conservation discretionary fund and $500,000 from the State Environmental Clean Water-Clean Air Bond Act.