New Milford Sewer Commission tries to balance septage
NEW MILFORD — The New Milford Sewer Commission has a little more guidance in how much septage the plant can receive as the commission struggles with generating enough revenue, while still protecting the plant’s equipment.
Wright Pierce Environmental Engineering presented its preliminary findings at Monday’s Sewer Commission meeting that set the maximum loads of septage, or septic waste, the plant can collect at 17,000 gallons if only half of the plant is operating or 40,000 gallons for the whole plant.
A draft of a more in-depth report with recommendations on how to tweak the plant to accept the septage and how collecting different amounts would affect the plant’s operations is expected to be sent to the commission next month.
“It’s a give and take,” said Brian Messner, of Wright Pierce, adding the commission doesn’t want to overrun the plant and violate its permits.
He said while the commission can make money daily on receiving septage, it also increases the chance of equipment needing repairs, which can be expensive.
Septage has both benefited and hurt the sewer commission.
About three years ago, the plant began accepting more septage, especially from New York haulers, as a way to generate revenue as the commission worked to pay back its debt to the town for the plant expansion in 2012. While it helped cover the debt, the additional septage, which is heavier and more potent than the waste from the regular system, put wear and tear on the plant.
Wright Pierce is using the figures for the plant’s last five years of operation, generating an average of 27,000 or 28,000 gallons a day.
However, Charlene Michalek, who oversees the sewer commission’s finances, said the average might be off because the amount of septage collected in the past three years was “sky high.”
The former plant superintendent capped the daily amount of septage the plant could take at 25,000 gallons in the spring, following a few days when the plant accepted more than 70,000 gallons on a few days.
The cap and the new prices have since reduced the septage brought in, but that also means the revenue is much lower than budgeted.
Michalek said the septage has generated 40 to 50 percent of the revenue she budgeted. She said she created the budget using previous hauling figures before the new price structure and the septage cap.
She said the higher prices were the main reason haulers gave her on why they don’t come any more or as often.
”Running at 17,000 gallons or less is hurting us, and we’re not going to be able to be able to pay our debt,” said Theresa McSpedon, a commission member.
Several commission members pointed out the plant is operating much better now that there was less septage.
“The main goal is to not put stress on the plant,” Messner said.
He added the quality of septage is a factor.
“One bad load could change all of the chemistry in the plant,” he said. ”You wouldn’t be running correctly.”