Building For the Future
The Monroe County Water Authority has officially commissioned its new Webster Water Treatment Plant – the central component in the East Side Water Supply Project (ESWSP) that has been more than 50 years in the making and three and a half years under construction. The ESWSP is the biggest improvement to the region’s water supply infrastructure in decades.
Construction began in 2010, and for nearly two years, deep under the shores of Lake Ontario, a giant “mole” carved a one-mile long, 9-foot diameter tunnel out of solid bedrock. Starting in mid-2013, that tunnel began drawing up to 50 million gallons a day of fresh lake water to supply Monroe County Water Authority’s new Webster Water Treatment Plant (WTP). After being drawn from the intake tunnel system, water is pumped three miles south to the Webster WTP through a new, 48-inch water main. At the treatment plant, the water is subjected to a multi-step process to purify, filter and finish the water before it is pumped out into the Water Authority’s distribution system. All told, the Water Authority built 13 miles of new water mains to connect the plant to its distribution system.
The project will provide critical redundancy to our community’s main supply of fresh water by providing a second major source of Lake Ontario water for the system. System breakdowns, or even routine maintenance, will no longer require MCWA to rely exclusively on stored water in our reservoirs. Remarkably enough, the addition of a second water treatment plant on the east side of Monroe County will reduce overall energy consumption because water pumped to east side customers will not require the use of several substantial booster pumps.
The project furthers our longstanding commitment to reliable, safe and affordable clean water for our region. The ESWSP also enhances our community through the creation of construction jobs and the utilization of green practices. Among the green initiatives:
The million-gallon backwash tank needed for filter backwash and cleaning is reused from a previous installation, recycling 155 tons of steel.
The 13 miles of new transmission mains are made of 75% recycled iron and steel.
The water treatment plant incorporates the use of the natural freeze/dry process for treatment of the backwash sludge. Instead of highly energy-intensive conventional treatment methods such as presses or centrifuges, each year the settled alum sludge is spread in a thin layer and allowed to freeze. This breaks the bonds of hydration and allows the particulate material to separate and settle while the water is returned to the lake. The energy savings of the natural freeze/dry process are well in excess of 100,000 kilowatt-hours per year.
Creation of 10 acres of wetlands at the Lake Road and Basket Road facilities
Upsized Intake & Transmission Mains reduce the long-term energy requirements and electrical demand.
One key element in advancing the project was the receipt of federal stimulus funds. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the New York State Department of Health awarded us $17.75 million in grants and subsidies, largely because our project was both shovel-ready and followed energy-efficient green practices.
Another key factor is the economic benefits to the ratepayers of the Water Authority. With over one megawatt of electrical demand and annual savings of over 5 million kilowatt-hours through the shortened distance to pump water to east side communities, the ESWSP makes financial sense.
State of the Art
The ESWSP is designed to be run as an extremely efficient plant with a state-of-the-art, technologically advanced operating and control system, utilizing 21st century know-how. This continues our long tradition of efficiency in labor to bring consumers water at the lowest cost possible.
Security measures include state-of-the-art provisions and equipment to maximize the safety of our water supply and to reduce vulnerability to natural occurrences such as main breaks and natural disasters. The ESWSP is designed to preserve the purity and consistency of water delivery, improve system reliability and meet increasing water demands as our communities grow.
The processes themselves are efficient and sophisticated. Examples include taking advantage of our natural weather to utilize a freeze-drying process for residuals that is both economical and green. To cool the plant, we plan to use naturally chilled lake water to pre-cool air, reducing cost and energy consumption.
Every step of the way we have included economy of scale and long-look thinking to provide sustainable, efficient and responsible operation.