Bottled water flows from new plant

JOHNSTOWN – One of Fulton County’s newest employers, CG Roxane, is pumping out bottles of water.

The bottling plant, recently built by the company, is in the middle of an isolated three-mile stretch off Watershed Road, between Murray Hill Road and County Highway 116, about a mile east of the Canajoharie reservoir and a half-mile southeast of the Rockwood State Forest.

The $35 million facility, which produces bottles of Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, is capable of producing more than 130,000 bottles of water an hour, CG Roxane Director of Development Gilles Romet said, with three production lines working at any given time.

Romet said the plant has one shift of 12 people working there. However, a second shift is being trained, with plans to potentially bring in a third shift; that would bring the total number of employees to about 40.

“When the plant runs at full capacity, we will have three shifts,” Romet said.

The plant, which took about a year to construct and opened in June, produces 16-ounce bottles as well as 1-gallon bottles. The 170,000-square-foot plant holds three lines, two for the 16-ounce bottles and one for gallon bottles.

Romet said the process of bottling the water is simple. Water is pumped from boreholes located at the springs at the Canajoharie watershed.

The company buys the water from Canajoharie’s watershed, which had an excess amount of water after Beechnut moved its operations from that village to the town of Florida.

Romet said drawing water from the reservoirs was important to the company, rather than having water brought in.

“We try to be as near as possible to the spring,” Romet said.

Water then goes through a filtration process. The plant is able to filter 300 gallons per minute. Sand and minerals are removed through the use of ceramic filters. Romet said no chemicals are used in the process.

The bottles are produced onsite. Romet said the bottles are created when a dense plastic shell is heated to its melting point. Then, air is blown into the shell, fitting it to a mold. Water is then pumped into the bottle, which is capped and labeled. The water bottles then go on a pallet and get sent to trucks for shipment or are stored.

In May, the construction of the facility was discussed at a meeting of the Inter-County Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks.

At the meeting in Johnstown, Fulton County Planner Scott Henze noted the company has a capacity to produce 912,000 half-liter bottles a day and 121,000 one-liter bottles a day.

“CG Roxane proved they are going to be here for a while,” Henze said at that time.

Romet said the employees have been doing well, though they were nervous at first. He said many were afraid of breaking something on the high-speed assembly lines.

Romet said the plant is not at peak production yet due to only having one shift a day. The peak season for bottled water is between April and September, he said.