Guilderland applies for state grant to filter wells for $4.3M

Enterprise file photo

The Watervliet Reservoir’s “water quality is typically degraded each summer by algae blooms and aquatic weed growth,” says a state grant application the Guilderland Town Board approved on Friday. The $4.3 million project would provide filters for the town’s drinking water wells.

GUILDERLAND — The town board today, by unanimous votes, passed a series of resolutions that will allow Delaware Engineering to proceed with an application for a state grant to install a greensand filtration system for its drinking water wells.

Supervisor Peter Barber conducted the online meeting at noon from Rome, Italy. No one spoke at the required public hearing. 

Word on whether the town will receive the grant is expected by next spring, according to Mary Beth Bianconi with Delaware Engineering.

The Guilderland Town Board is lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and it was determined the project “will not have a significant effect on the environment.”

The wells are located at the town’s Department of Public Works site on State Farm Road and will disturb less than one acre of land, the application says.

Bianconi told the town board earlier that the town has three wells. One is used in the summertime when water use peaks in town; the other two wells are unused because they have high levels of iron and manganese.

At times in the summer, during peak draw, she said, the town uses more water from that single well than the half-million-gallon cap set by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The grant, she said, would build a filtration system to give the town another source of water besides the Watervliet Reservoir, adding to its resilience.

“It’s a packed bed filter,” said Bianconi, explaining that the greensand in the unit binds with the iron and manganese to remove it from the water. The sand has to be replaced once it can’t be absorbed anymore.

“That’s a cost, but the benefit is the wells become useful and the quality [of water] is better,” she said, explaining that groundwater sources are generally less expensive than surface water sources like the reservoir and they are also more stable.

Bianconi said that the grant, if it is awarded to Guilderland, would cover up to 60 percent of the costs or up to $3 million, whichever is greater.

The application, due by Nov. 22, puts the total project cost at $4,259,000.

“The reservoir’s water quality is typically degraded each summer by algae blooms and aquatic weed growth,” the application says.

The application also notes that, in 2018, the town detected disinfectant byproducts in the water system that exceeded the maximum contaminant level set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Department of Health.

Additionally, the application notes that 27,000 Guilderland residents use town water and states, “The Town’s 2018 Water Supply Capacity Evaluation indicates that there would be significant savings to water users in Town as a result of using its own supply water rather than relying on purchased surface water.” Guilderland currently purchases water from Albany and Rotterdam when needed.

At the Friday meeting, the town board also voted to award a contract for $644,993 to Trinity Construction Inc. for an improvement project at the Watervliet Reservoir water treatment plant

Barber described Trinity as the “lowest qualified bidder.” There were six bids. The lowest was from Gallo Construction Corp for $622,854. The highest was from Rozell East Inc. for $899,500.

Most of the board’s discussion in its 20-minute meeting centered on why Gallo was disqualified.

John Brust, with Delaware Engineering, wrote in a letter to the board and reiterated at Friday’s meeting that his firm’s experience with Gallo on two shared projects was “less than satisfactory, and that recommendations from project owners were not positive.

The town’s attorney, James Melita, said of Gallo’s not being selected for Guilderland’s project, “They didn’t contest it.”

Barber said he believed Gallo could still challenge Guilderland’s selection of Trinity.

Finally, the town board unanimously approved an “emergency authorization” to by a pump to replace a failed unit for the Deer Valley pump station.

The $70,000 cost is to come from the town Sewer Repair Reserve.

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