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A PAPER COMPANY AND A CITY TEAM TO RESOLVE A WASTEWATER TREATMENT CAPACITY CRISIS

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The City of Little Falls, New York, located on the Erie Canal in Central, NY was struggling, in the late 1990's, with an aging wastewater treatment facility that was marginally in compliance with its' effluent discharge permit. Market conditions were very favorable for the Burrows Paper Corp. to expand its 80-year-old mill operation in the City via fast track construction of a 28 million pulp mill using recycled paper.

The viability of the recycle pulp mill and the local employment associated with the new mill, very quickly became dependent on the City's ability to provide adequate wastewater treatment capacity at the City's POTW.

Original plans by the City to pursue a traditional route of planning, design, and construction of an expansion of the POTW along with pursuit of funding sources, financing and regulatory approvals would have resulted in a project schedule of 2–3 years.

At that point, the only feasible option for Burrows appeared to be construction of a 3 million pretreatment facility. This capital expense would have reduced the competitiveness of the new pulp mill.

The situation was exacerbated when the POTW's biosolids incinerator failed, leaving the City with no choice but to truck biosolids to a landfill at significantly increased cost. The situation further deteriorated when the POTW had difficulty meeting compliance with their discharge permit primarily due to overloading.

In the face of adversity, the City of Little Falls, Burrows Paper Corporation, state regulatory, and funding agencies accepted the challenge to resolve the dilemma. The project team developed a program to resolve the issues of compliance, capacity, funding and scheduling.

Major elements of the program included the following:

Emergency repairs to the POTW's biosolids incinerator utilizing a design/build approach.


Preparation of an engineering report which evaluated needs of the POTW and provided recommendations for improvements. The report was sponsored by the paper company and delivered to the City.


An agreement by the State regulatory authorities to allow less stringent effluent discharge limits during planning, design and construction which enabled the continued operation of the paper mill.


Favorable interest rates from New York State's clean water revolving fund.


The POTW's original hydraulic and organic capacity was increased from 5.5 mgd to 7 mgd and from 4,000 lbs/day to 10,000 lbs/day BOD5 respectively. The increased loading of approximately 0.5 mgd and 4,500 lbs/day BOD5 from the new pulp mill could then be treated by the upgraded and expanded POTW.

The POTW expansion included rehabilitation of existing clarifiers, replacement of major pumps and equipment and construction of an 85' diameter x 30' high biotower with synthetic media. Effluent permit compliance was achieved shortly after start-up.

The City of Little Falls, NY and Burrows Paper Corporation continue to team together for POTW operations recognizing the value of their partnering relationship.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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