Binghamton and Johnson City’s wastewater treatment plant is finally getting a makeover. Demolition started Wednesday on an unused section of the plant. That will clear the way for a new facility that will perform the second step of the sewage treatment process.
The upgrade is badly needed after a string of flawed renovation attempts dating back to the 90s, but city public works commissioner Gary Holmes says while it’s underway, the plant has no choice but to release water that’s only partially treated.
“People flush their toilets every day and take showers,” Holmes says. “It’s coming to us. We have to do the best we can with the facilities that we have.”
Holmes says the state gave the plant a reprieve from regulations for the duration of the project. He says construction on the new facility will start in 2016. The entire project is expected to take until 2018.
Binghamton Mayor Rich David puts the total project cost at around 200 million dollars. He says money will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other sources, and citizens will pay part of the amount with a phased-in rate increase.
“There is a sizeable cost associated with this project, but the bottom line is, it needs to work,” David says. “It hasn’t worked properly in quite some time.”
David says the update is critical to the success of any other economic development in the city.