Note: This story appears in the Friday, Aug. 16 newspaper on Page A1.

ALBANY — Improvements to the village wastewater treatment plant might pay major dividends in terms of future economic development, local officials hope.

The recent work is part of a broader goal to better the village’s infrastructure. Village Council members and Mayor Tim Kirkendall see this as another piece in enticing new businesses to open in town.

Ron Aldrich, the plant’s operator since 2014, said he came on-board with the village before any improvements to the plant had been made, and was able to advise the village on ways to improve the plant efficiently.

“The original design was two parallel trains of treatment, each having their own clarifier, which led into a lot of treatment issues,” he said. “The plant really had trouble meeting its permit since day one. Advance a couple years, and the village put in a micro screen that aims to filter the water before it enters the sand filters. Well, that works great in theory, but with design issues up here, it never was truly the answer.”

Now, the plant has larger clarifiers as well as new methods of separating solids from liquid waste.

The project cost a total of $730,000, with the majority of it funded through grants. Only $112,500 was assessed to the village, which was paid through the village’s improvement fund, Kirkendall said.

The mayor added that grants have been an important factor in keeping sewage rates flat, allowing the village to keep past rates for residents in conjunction with the improvement project.

“We haven’t had to raise their rates anymore because of this,” he said. “It’s added some treatment possibilities out here.”

Along with being more efficient, the plant has more than doubled its capacity of water it can process per day.

The plant operator also noted that had the village not worked on these improvements, the odds were good that the Environmental Protection Agency would have mandated the village conduct work on it anyway.

“No municipality wants to put itself in that corner,” he said. “With diligence on our part and the EPA’s part, we were able to get this put together.”

The new construction has been deemed completely operational, and Kirkendall is taking it as a chance to sell the area to potential companies seeking a place to expand.

“It gives us more room in terms of new people coming in and developing, which is what we’re shooting for,” he said. “We’re trying to get some economic development. Nobody tends to look at the end development of developing upstream, but you’ve got to have somewhere to put all that stuff.”

He noted the new arrivals of RXQ Compounding’s manufacturing plant in the Albany area, as well as the new Red Bull distribution site.

“We want more,” the mayor said, adding the industrial park used by Red Bull has another 10,000 square feet of available warehouse space.

As far as future plans for more infrastructure improvements, Kirkendall said the only weak spot in the village’s infrastructure is possibly the storm sewers. He said the village council has been working on a plan to improve the sewers in the future.

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