Shifting Gear

A quick design change for energy efficiency helps a Long Island town earn rebates for a new pump station needed to meet growing demand
Shifting Gear
The variable-speed drives on four Flygt pumps are run from this motor control center. Improved energy efficiency will save nearly $70,000 a year.

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When the New York Town of Riverhead needed to expand one of its 12 pump stations, local officials decided on a brand new facility that would meet demand for many years. Little did they know it would bring in a sizable rebate check, as well.

Town officials were in talks with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) about a possible wind turbine when sewer district superintendent Mike Reichel learned about the authority’s Reduced Energy Design program, which provides rebates based on the cost of equipment that saves energy.

“We were already in construction of the pump station when we found out about the rebates,” notes Reichel. The New York design firm H2M quickly came up with a plan to qualify for the rebate.

H2M suggested adding a larger force main so that smaller pumps could be used. “It was because of good design and good thinking that we were able to qualify,” says Reichel. LIPA ultimately granted rebates and incentives worth $46,225 that helped pay off some debt incurred in the $2.9 million project.

Reichel says the result shows the importance of having a relationship with the utility and staying on top of changes and additions to rebate and incentive programs.


The design

Replacing the 1936-era pump station had been in the town’s plans. “We needed the capacity because we extended our sewer district several years ago,” says Reichel. “It was part of the planning back in 1994 that the pump station would have to be upgraded to accommodate additional flows.”

Planning began in 2008, and bids were awarded in October 2010. The station went online in July 2011. The old pump station site was too small for the new one, so the town acquired the neighboring 0.6 acre for $150,000. H2M had determined the new station would require 75 hp pumps to move wastewater through a 10-inch cast iron force main. After learning of the rebate program, the engineers recommended starting with a new, larger main so that 35 hp pumps could be used.

The 1,200-foot, 14-inch polyethylene pipe was installed with directional boring. The plastic will last longer and reduce flow resistance, making pumping more efficient. The new pipe is also large enough for future growth in the station’s area. “We’ll never have to change out that pipe again,” says Reichel.

The four Flygt pumps (Xylem) have variable-speed drives with soft-starters. That reduces the electrical demand on startup and saves energy in operations. By using the larger pipe and smaller pumps, the town will reduce pump station energy costs by about 370,000 kWh a year, saving $68,000 a year.

“I didn’t realize it was going to take so much electricity in the first place, so the savings are substantial,” says Reichel. “You’re talking about savings over the life of the pump station, 40 or 50 years.” The previous pump station had a capacity of 400,000 gpd, and the new one was quickly handling 450,000 gpd. Its rated capacity is 800,000 gpd.

“The area served by the pump station ends with the developed areas of the town, about half residential and half commercial, including the downtown,” says Reichel. With a population of 50,000 Riverhead is the largest agricultural town in Suffolk County, the state’s largest agricultural producer per capita.


Plant upgrade coming

With the new pump station in place, upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant are planned. The original 1937 primary treatment plant was upgraded to secondary treatment in 1959 with the addition of trickling filters and upgraded to tertiary treatment in 2000 with sequencing batch reactors, nitrogen removal, and UV disinfection.

The 1.2 mgd (design) plant is to be upgraded again soon to meet new effluent regulations. The plant will be converted to a membrane bioreactor in 2013. “We’re trying to reduce the nitrogen loading going into the Peconic Estuary,” says Reichel. “We discharge into a pretty sensitive area. It is protected by the federal government and is one of 19 nationally recognized estuaries.”

MBR technology will enable water reclamation. “Reducing nitrogen will allow us to provide irrigation water for a county golf course next door,” Reichel says. “It’s a beneficial reuse and provides an extra step of filtration before the treated water goes back to the Peconic.”

The estimated $18.5 million upgrade will also improve biosolids handling. The plant produces about 1,500 dry metric tons a year, shipped to landfills in Ohio at a cost of $250,000 a year. Class B biosolids from the improved facility will be applied to sod farms on Long Island.

“We’ll get a beneficial reuse,” says Reichel. “The sod farmer can reduce the amount of fertilizer used and maybe extend the life of the property by adding biosolids as a soil conditioner. We may also offer it for purposes like nurseries and landscaping.”

He expects up to $200,000 in rebates as part of the next plant upgrade for energy-efficient blowers, pumps, and mixers that meet LIPA rebate program requirements. Using what he has already learned, Reichel will talk to the utility often to stay up to date on program changes that provide even more financial benefits.


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