Join CDPA for a tour of the Albany County Sewer District North Plant

Plant SchematicWhat happens to wastewater when it leaves our homes? What processes are used to treat wastewater? How is stormwater handled? How are these systems regulated? What are the threats to this infrastructure, and how can we plan better to keep these assets running safely and efficiently? The answers to these questions, and more when we tour the ACSD North Plant in April. Space is limited – reserve your spot today!

More after the jump.

Most folks go about their day without much thought about wastewater, yet innovations made in the transport and treatment of wastewater were arguably the single most important public health initiative in the history of human civilization.

As recently as century ago most of the largest cities in the world had amazingly archaic drinking water systems consisting of shallow public wells where people could pump their own water to carry home and in advanced cities, utilities that drew water from a water body to supply a jumble of water lines to only the most upscale houses. Most cities’ sewage systems were more ad hoc: nothing more than privies emptied into cesspools or cellars and open channels that conveyed all the community’s waste into an adjacent water body. This not only led to undesirable smells and unsightly conditions, it also led to frequent and deadly outbreaks of diseases like cholera.  Today, thanks to our growing awareness of how human health is closely entwined with sanitation, efforts to transport and treat wastewater have led to longer, healthier lives for humans and a cleaner planet that we share with the natural world. Yet, the advancements in wastewater conveyance and treatment are largely invisible to the general public, unless something goes catastrophically wrong.

The Albany County Sewer District was formed in 1968 by resolution of the County Legislature and original construction costs totaled over $71M.  2014 marks the District’s 40th year of providing wastewater transportation and treatment service to their eight member communities serving a population of over 200,000. We’ll take a tour of the District’s North Plant and learn the answers to the questions above. We’ll also gain a better understanding about ‘the end of the pipe’ and the enormous role the District plays, largely uncelebrated, in protecting public health and the natural environment. 

Reserve your spot soon – SPACE IS LIMITED.

Our host, Richard J. Lyons has worked for the Albany County Sewer District for more than forty years and serves as the District’s Executive Director. Rich has been a certified wastewater operator since 1979 and also serves on the county Energy Advisory Group, Albany Pool CSO Technical and Citizen Advisory Committees. He has been an active member of WEF for over 25 years and is a past President of the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA). Rich has received numerous awards from NYWEA and the American Public Works Association He also received the WEF Arthur Sidney Bedell Award in 1998.    

FAQs

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

Our tour will start promtly at 3:30pm at the District Headquarters. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes early. The location of our event is 1 Canal Road South Menands, NY 12204 – the plant is best accessed via Simmons Lane, off Broadway (Look for Simmons Machine Corp.)  Parking is available on site, but we reccomend carpooling. We’ll gather in the conference room, second floor, for an introduction before taking a tour. 

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

You can contact Martin Daley: daleyplanit@gmail.com / (518) 894-2195 with questions or if you are lost / running late / etc.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

You should bring your ticket so we can validate attendees for CM credits.

What should I wear?

The plant is an industrial area. Bring comfortable but study shoes, boots are best. No high heels. It may rain, and some facilities are outdoors so plan accordingly.

Will there be a gathering after the event?

We will get a headcount on who is interested in eating after the tour and head over to the Pump Station. There is no cost for the tour, dinner is on your own discretion.

Why is this limited to 25 people?

We want to keep the group managable. If there is additional desire that outpaces demand a late summer tour may be added.

Will I get grossed out?

We are touring a sewage treatment plant, so there may be unpleasant smells. We’ve chosen a date and time to avoid humidity, and see the new disinfection infrastructure, but cannot guarantee there won’t be any bad odors!