City bonds $8M for sewer plant

JOHNSTOWN – The Common Council on Monday agreed to have the city borrow $8 million on behalf of the Glove Cities to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Facility, which will pretreat increasing volumes of waste products from the local dairy industries.

The council approved a bond resolution in that amount at City Hall. A Johnstown government body must approve the bonding because the sewer facility is located on Union Avenue in the city. An approval from the city of Gloversville on the bonding resolution is not needed.

The council also approved a separate $750,000 application for a state Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the sewer plant upgrade.

The $8 million will mostly go toward sewage treatment plant construction improvements needed to keep up with the ongoing $120 million Fage USA yogurt plant expansion at the Johnstown Industrial Park.

“This is a lot of money,” said city Treasurer Michael Gifford.

The council on Nov. 19 approved two resolutions that allowed Fage USA to begin its expansion. The council voted to approve a sewer allocation and capital improvement agreement and a water-supply agreement.

The company is doubling production with a new building addition, increasing a 240-person work force by 150 employees. The expansion also will result in larger quantities of whey and yogurt manufacturing waste, which will need to be treated.

“It’s all part of the expansion of the Johnstown Industrial Park,” sewer plant consultant George Bevington said today of the city’s bonding resolution.

He said the sewer plant’s upgrade will start later this year – the second major expansion at the sewer plant in recent years linked to Fage’s expansion. The sewer plant will receive “additional tanks, a third engine, storage vessels and a pipeline,” Bevington said.

Expansion also is under way at Fage USA at 1 Opportunity Drive. The first phase involves building milk-receiving areas with two bays and a new road around the building. The second phase will entail additions of laboratory and research areas inside the existing building. The third phase will include a 180,000-square-foot addition to the plant.

Discharges from Fage are expected to increase from about 127 million gallons of wastewater currently to 286 million gallons by 2017.

Part of the upgrade will involve a low-energy way to pretreat the influx of dairy waste from Fage.

The city of Gloversville agreed to designate the city of Johnstown for the state grant application.

“We are all aware of the fact the wastewater treatment plant is a business that is jointly owned by the cities,” said Mayor Sarah Slingerland. “Resolutions like this are critical so that things can operate correctly.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at