Albion continues upgrades to sewer plant

Photos by Tom Rivers: Aric Albright, chief operator for the Albion sewer plant, also oversees the facilities for Holley and Elba. Albright was honored last year by the Genesee Valley branch of the American Public Works Association.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2019 at 10:43 am

Facility on Densmore Street will be state-of-art after upcoming project

ALBION – A sewer plant that is four decades old soon will be tackling another significant upgrade, following a series of other improvements in recent years.

The Village of Albion in December was approved for a $600,000 state grant to install an ultraviolet disinfection system. The outcome will be to fully treat the effluent, which will kill bacteria.

“It will basically be like refined water when it is released into Sandy Creek,” said Aric Albright, the sewer plant’s chief operator. “I could hold up a glass of water and our effluent and you wouldn’t notice the difference.”

The disinfectant project will slow down how fast the water flows through the plant. The water will be slowed down with a weir and exposed to ultraviolent light.

Albion doesn’t do the ultraviolent system right now. The village will retrofit a chamber at the sewer plant, a part of the facility on Densmore Street that hasn’t been used since the 1980s.

That project follows several other significant upgrades in the past three years. The village has spent about $3.2 million to upgrade the controls, replace blowers and repair tanks and drives.

The improvements have the plant well positioned for the future to meet the village’s current needs and also if there are new sewer districts and industry. The plant currently treats about 2 million gallons a day, and that can increase to 3 million if there is a heavy rain or snow melt.

The sewer plant, known as the Village of Albion Pollution Control Facility, was built about 40 years ago. Albright said the recent improvements ensure the plant will continue as an important asset for the community.

“This is a good plant,” he said. “It will be in good shape for many years to come.”

Albright, 51, grew up in Albion. He joined the sewer plant after working 18 years for two local quarries. He started at the plant in 2001, working in maintenance. He became the chief operator in 2006.

“I was born and raised in Albion and I love the village,” he said. “I feel this is one way I can help keep the village thriving.”

Mayor Eileen Banker praises Albright for being a hard-worker who looks out for the best interests of the village.

Albright in the past five years also pushed the village to run the sewer plants for Holley and Elba, and Elba’s water plant. The agreements generate money for the village, and provide the trained personnel for the neighboring municipalities for their facilities.

Albright does the paperwork for discharge monitoring, reports that go to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Albion has a sewer employee at the Holley and Elba sites daily.

Albright said the village is fortunate to have dedicated employees at the sewer plant with Kyle Piccirilli, an operator in training; Brad Rouse, who works in maintenance; and Kevin Kelly, a part-time truck driver. (The village has a tanker that spreads some of the sewage sludge on farm fields, which provides fertilizer for local crops.)

“I would put my guys against anyone,” Albright said. “These three guys put the village first.”

Piccirrilli joined the sewer plant about a 1 ½ years ago after 8 years at St. Gobain in Albion. Piccirrilli likes the quietness of the plant and the challenges of the job.

“There’s a lot more to it than I realized,” he said.

One main goal is to create an atmosphere where bugs can thrive and eat the bacteria, a natural biologic breakdown of the sewage sludge.

Much of the upgrades at the sewer plant haven’t been visible to the general public because the upgrades have been inside the facility or the tanks behind the building.

There has been a much more visible project this winter at the plant. Nearly 4,000 solar panels are being installed.

The solar panels will generate 1.3 megawatts of electricity. It will be sold to National Grid, and is expected raise at least $80,000 a year for the village.

Contractors are expected to have the system constructed in March with it going online in May.

Russell Brilhart, an employee with Sole Contracting in Delaware, carries a solar panel on Feb. 4 that was installed by the Albion sewer plant on Densmore Street.

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