Village plans to upgrade wastewater filtration system

The Village of Geneseo is in the process of upgrading the wastewater plant located on Riverside Drive, just off of Court Street. The plant has begun upgrades to mitigate the levels of phosphorous in the water. 

The State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program—which has to be renewed every five years after an investigation–expired over the summer and has not yet been granted renewal, according to the Mayor of the Village of Geneseo Richard Hatheway.

“We’ve kept up with the modernization of things, but new regulations pop in,” Hatheway said. “The regulations were under the control of the Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees all sewage treatment plans and they give a SPDES permit.” 

The permit has not yet been granted renewal because the phosphorus levels in the water exceed the state regulations, according to Hatheway. Phosphorous can cause the growth of weeds in the bodies of water where it is deposited and while the phosphorus is not necessarily a problem in the Genesee River, it can accumulate as the river leads into Lake Ontario. 

Beyond reducing phosphorous levels, the planned plant renovations will change how the village disinfects water, according to Provisional Plant Operator Dan Quinlan. The Geneseo plant intends to start using ultraviolet light to disinfect the water. The UV disinfection process should leave a relatively small footprint, as it will be an open-air addition to the plant that will minimally increase electricity costs.

The total cost for updating the two forms of water treatment would total $6 million and the DEC has offered an interest free loan to the village in order to complete the renovations. Rather than accepting the whole DEC loan, the village is opting to first upgrade the ultraviolet disinfection process, which would cost around $2 million, according to Hatheway.

Part of the reason why the village is taking care of the disinfection system is because the plant is spending the next three months examining different techniques to eliminate phosphorus from the water, according to Quinlan. 

“We’ve been to at least a dozen other plants to look at their phosphorus removal and their disinfection UV units to give us a little bit of exposure in how they work and what to expect,” Quinlan said.

Before construction starts on the UV disinfection process, the village is waiting on approval for a state grant that would cover up to 85 percent of the construction costs, according to Quinlan. 

While the plant does not need to meet all of the DEC’s regulations yet, the regulations will change by 2022. As it commits to the various upgrades earlier than necessary, Hatheway believes that the plant can help the local and regional environment.   

“All of us are very interested in doing our part to help the Genesee River and the whole Great Lakes basin,” Hatheway said.

The Village of Geneseo will institute multiple changes to the wastewater plant. These modifications will put Geneseo in line with predicted state regulations. From the plant, the water flows back into the Genesee River, pictured above. (Ellayna Fredericks/ Associate Photo Editor)

The Village of Geneseo will institute multiple changes to the wastewater plant. These modifications will put Geneseo in line with predicted state regulations. From the plant, the water flows back into the Genesee River, pictured above. (Ellayna Fredericks/ Associate Photo Editor)