Cortland receives $2.2 million water quality grant

The wastewater treatment facility in the City of Cortland. (Photo via Google Maps).

The City of Cortland recently received a $2.2 million grant from the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP), administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The grant, according to a release, will fund improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment facility plant on Port Watson Street, including a process developed and piloted by the city to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering the Tioughnioga River and Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The DEC’s WQIP grant program funds water quality improvement and protection projects, as well as efforts to promote aquatic habitat and flood mitigation.

“We are grateful to the state DEC for their support and recognition of the importance of improving critical infrastructure in our community,” City mayor Scott Steve said. “This grant allows us to make important upgrades that will benefit the city’s environment and residents and help improve water quality downstream of the Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers.”

The grant awarded to the city will cover 75% of the cost to improve the efficiency and overall performance of the city’s wastewater treatment systems, including installation of a new aeration blower to break down organic matter. The city will cover about $550,000 to complete the project.

Upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility will increase the efficiency and lower the cost of meeting environmental standards. This includes the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed, which stretches six states from New York to Virginia. The watershed targets the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus discharge from sewage treatment plants, stormwater runoff and industrial sources.

Over 18.5 million people lived within the watershed, the largest in the country.

“This award is a testimony to the expertise and dedication of our staff, as well as the continuing support of the administration, council, and community,” City wastewater superintendent Bruce Adams said. “Completing this project will put the facility on firm ground to meet its Chesapeake  Bay requirements for many years to come.”

The release noted that engineering work is set to begin in the spring, with construction work to follow. Adams noted that completion of the project is based on the timeliness of acquiring equipment and supplies.

Mayor Steve praised the leadership and innovations by Adams and his staff. Adams led a staff-initiated pilot process, which successfully demonstrated the “feasibility of removing pollutant-causing nutrients using a cycled-air process” together with a “modified solids-handling approach.”

“Bruce and his team found an innovative process and the state funds will assure the long-term viability of this project and improve the city’s wastewater infrastructure and environmental conservation efforts,” Steve said.