OSWEGO — Port City officials are pumping more than $2 million into wastewater treatment upgrades, with the bulk of the funds slated for an energy efficiency project at the Eastside Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Dubbed the Eastside Green Innovation Project, the roughly $2 million wastewater plant upgrades would replace a series of aeration blowers that run around-the-clock. The Oswego Common Council earlier this month approved up to $1.09 million for the project, which will also use up to $1 million in grant funding to complete. 

The move is the latest in a long line of wastewater and water upgrades made by the city in recent years that included the mammoth undertaking known as the sewer separation, or consent decree, to complete a federally mandated separation of the storm water and wastewater systems on the west side of the Oswego River. 

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the east side project currently getting underway came from a previously conducted asset management plan at the facility, which city officials commissioned after a similar move at the west side wastewater treatment plant was deemed successful. Barlow said the asset management plan creates “a roadmap for a smart, strategic approach to plant upgrades.”

“We conducted an asset management plan at the west side plant, followed it, and we’ve made considerable progress there, so it is time to do the exact same thing on the east side,” the mayor said. “We did the west side plant first because it was in worse condition, and now we’re starting to make progress on the east side plant.”

Barlow said the Eastside Green Innovation Project would install new blowers and a new aeration system for the plant’s clarifiers, which in turn will better treat wastewater and make the plant run more efficiently overall. Barlow noted the city has invested heavily in both wastewater and water facilities during his time in office, bringing the city in compliance with state and federal regulations. 

The significant upgrades will also improve operations and better serve the public, Barlow said, and eventually lower the cost of water and sewer bills. Barlow noted water and wastewater infrastructure is “never a political homerun” and often ignored, but he’s proud to have reversed a trend of deferred maintenance to invest in the facilities and reduced taxpayer costs. 

“Completing these projects, modernizing the facilities, improving operations, in addition to performing the basic maintenance these plants require, ensures we stay in compliance with regulatory agencies, improve services and prevent future mayors and councilors down the road from being handed the absolute mess we were handed due to years of incompetent leadership and total neglect of vital city facilities,” Barlow said. 

City Engineer Jeffrey Hinderliter said the project would upgrade the aeration system in the Eastside Wastewater Plant. Hinderliter said aeration blowers represent one of the highest electrical costs the city has, as the blowers run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep the bacteria in the city’s tanks healthy. 

“They are a critical part of our waste processing,” Hinderliter said, noting the grant is focused on energy efficiency to reduce the energy consumption of water quality projects. “This project continues our investment in our critical infrastructure to improve the water quality of Lake Ontario, reduce the amount of energy used by the City of Oswego, and reduce the cost of processing our community’s waste. This is a great investment in our system that has been needed for a long time.”

Hinderliter said the new blowers, once installed, would provide a reduction of energy use by over 50 percent.  

The project is estimated to cost $1,994,000, according to Hinderliter, who noted the project would be designed and put out to bid this winter with construction tentatively occurring next summer.

The city is currently finalizing the documentation to enter a grant contract with the state Environmental Facilities Corporation. 

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