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Essex, AES earn design award for municipal treatment plant

Essex Wastewater Plant Manager Tina Gardner stands outside the municipal plant and talks about the solar paneling used to power the facility as well as provide hot water. The town recently received an Excellence In Building Design Competition Award during the Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference held in Lake Placid. For more, see the story on page 10.

Essex Wastewater Plant Manager Tina Gardner stands outside the municipal plant and talks about the solar paneling used to power the facility as well as provide hot water. The town recently received an Excellence In Building Design Competition Award during the Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference held in Lake Placid. For more, see the story on page 10. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Entering the town of Essex from the west, one would think the two blue-ish grey barns on the outskirts of the hamlet were just outbuildings on any one of the local farms.

However, inside the two barns is the Town of Essex Wastewater Treatment Plant, which recently won a 2013 Excellence In Building Design Competition Award during the Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference held in Lake Placid.

“It does not look like a municipal plant of any kind,” Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen said. “It fits into the landscape of the community while serving the community in a great way and helping to keep Lake Champlain clean. We are very proud of it.”

According to the release from the Local Government Day Conference, the, “Town of Essex Wastewater Treatment Plant was recognized for its innovative design, green technologies, and fit into the landscape.”

Leading the green technology at the plant is the use of solar power for both electricity and hot water.

“Our first electric bill that we had here at the plant was over $1,000 before the solar was up and running,” plant operator Tina Gardner said. “I had one bill last year that was 79 cents, but there are a lot of times that we sell back into the grid to get a credit.”

“It’s great that with the solar power we are not billed for power on that plant anymore,” Boisen said.

Three tracker solar panels stand outside of the plant structures, while more solar panels line the roof of the largest barn, which houses the wastewater tanks. On the operations barn, a set of water heating panels are found, which cycle warm water into the plant.

Gardner added that the Essex plant also has a single tank to send wastewater through the treatment process.

“Everything is done in one base compared to other plants that have different tanks for different processes,” she said. “It leads to the plant having a smaller footprint.”

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