By Anthony F. Hall
The Lake George Mirror
A method of removing nitrogen from wastewater, one commonly used by midwestern farmers to clarify agricultural runoff, will be adapted by the Town of Bolton to help protect Lake George.
At its monthly meeting, held Tuesday, September 5, the Town Board voted to establish “a Sewer Plant Project Improvement Account” to fund upgrades at the plant, including one that will turn two sandbeds into “wood chip bioreactors” - trenches filled with woodchips.
According to Town officials, woodchips can extract as much as 60% of the nitrogen remaining in the wastewater already treated by the plant.
“The plant is in compliance with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s rules and regulations, and the staff is proud of that,” said Town Supervisor Ron Conover. “But this is a good step in expanding the longevity of the plant. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The Town Board has allotted $180,000 to fund the various improvements, including $16,000 for the wood chip bioreactors. A second resolution adopted on September 5 authorizes the board to borrow the funds from the town’s Community Development Fund.
According to Conover, the bioreactor project originated with Kathy Suozzo, an environmental engineer who was retained to study Bolton’s wastewater treatment plant and propose measures that will improve the plant’s efficiency.
“The whole idea is to ensure that the effluent produced by the treatment plant is as good as it can be,” said Conover. “It’s what we should be doing for the lake and for the environment.”
Kathy Suozzo has completed her evaluation of the plant and submitted it to the DEC, said Conover, adding that renovations at the plant will begin as soon as New York State’s Department of Environmental approves the recommendations, the plans and engineering designs. “Our public works crews will do as much of the work as possible to reduce the costs of the projects,” said Conover.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky and retired DEC scientist Jim Sutherland have completed their own study of the plant and submitted that to the Town of Bolton and to the DEC.
Navitsky calls the study “a watershed-wide assessment” that examined not only the plant itself, but the streams, seeps, septic systems
and groundwater infiltrations that may be carrying pollutants to Dula Pond, Mohican Point and ultimately Lake George.
The $22,000 study was conducted “at no cost to the town; it was paid for by The Fund for Lake George and the Lake George Waterkeeper,” said Navitsky.
“The two studies overlap in many areas and include many of the same recommendations,” said Navitsky.