Tioga County Agency Upgrades Water/Wastewater System to Attract Industrial Development
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The Industrial Development Agency of Tioga County, NY enticed global aluminum packaging giant Crown Cork & Seal to select a site in the Town of Nichols for construction of a new aluminum can manufacturing facility that has resulted in more than 500 construction jobs and more than 150 permanent manufacturing jobs. To make the property attractive for development, the IDA agreed to upgrade Nichols’ public drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure to serve the new manufacturing facility. Crown is considered by the EPA to be a “categorical industrial discharger,” meaning the Town is required by the state to implement specific industrial pretreatment programs and regulations.

However, the upgrades couldn’t be started until Crown committed to developing the site, and they needed to be completed before the new manufacturing facility came online. The result was a timeframe of just one year to complete the design and construction of all water/wastewater upgrades.

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The improvements were significant; the town’s wastewater treatment capacity had to increase from 40,000 gallons per day to 240,000 GPD and have the ability to treat Crown’s unique industrial wastewater. In addition, the drinking water system expansion included increasing well pumping capacity, which required Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) permitting, usually a lengthy process.

IDA authorized Larson Design Group to start the project on Jan. 16, 2016. By November , LDG had to complete design, permitting, bidding and construction, a process which would typically take at least two years to complete. LDG’s experienced engineers, including the project manager who had been construction inspector for the original Nichols WWTF a decade earlier, used a proprietary approach to hit the ground running.

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The project, already underway, became even more complex when the Department of Environmental Conservation determined that design needed to be robust enough to meet strict nutrient limits as well as treat the industrial wastewater discharge from Crown. The LDG team drew from lessons learned from other projects to select an innovative, LDG-tested process for an operator-friendly treatment process that consistently meets discharge limits and handles industrial wastewater. The expansion involved a new sequencing batch reactor, repurposing existing treatment basins, upgrading an existing control building and adding a new, 650-sq.ft. building for filtration and sludge handling. LDG also developed and implemented a local pretreatment program to set discharge, monitoring and enforcement requirements for Crown.

LDG managed the close coordination process between Crown, IDA, Nichols, DEC and other regulators to meet the challenging timeline. The firm held several pre-application meetings with DEC to establish strong communication, let them know the design schedule and to foster understanding of the approach. LDG’s team was proactive in conducting treatability testing and providing data from other LDG-designed WWTFs, which provided key information for timely permitting. The firm’s close working relationships with treatment equipment manufacturers and the project contractor were key to meeting the tight construction timeframe. LDG engineers also included appropriate provisions in the bid documents to allow flexibility when dealing with inevitable construction changes without having to go through multiple time-consuming change order approvals.

Improvements in the drinking water system required increasing pumping capacity to meet the water demand. In addition to designing and implementing improvements to pumping and well house facilities, LDG was tasked with updating the SRBC withdrawal permit to account for the new demand. The firm’s experts worked closely with a hydrogeologist subconsultant and with the SBRC to design and conduct an appropriate aquifer test plan and receive permit approval.

LDG’s design solutions were effective in repurposing the WWTF infrastructure into a robust treatment facility that has been easy for the operator to manage and has consistently met discharge limits. The drinking water system permitting and improvements were also successfully completed. LDG’s engineering team met the tight project timeline and provided the needed water and wastewater service to the new Crown manufacturing facility on time and within budget. Overall, LDG assisted the IDA, the Town of Nichols and Crown, Cork & Seal in bringing industry and hundreds of jobs to Tioga County.

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