Wastewater Division

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Originally built in the 1920s, the BPU’s tertiary Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has been continuously upgraded and is permitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to treat 12 million gallons of wastewater per day. The wastewater comes to the Quaint Road facility in the Town of Poland from the City of Jamestown and the Village of Falconer. The Jamestown WWTP treats an average of 2 billion gallons of wastewater per year from these municipalities.

Outside Sewer Maintenance

An outside wastewater maintenance group maintains the underground piping system that carries wastewater to the WWTP. These crews focus on regular maintenance of more than 140 miles of pipe and manhole covers. In addition, sewer lines are regularly videoed internally, pipes are relined, smoke and downspout testing takes place to prevent inflow and infiltration of ground water and/or storm sewer water into the sewer lines.

The BPU cost of supplying water includes digging the wells, pumping the water, adding a small amount of chlorine for disinfection and fluoride for tooth decay prevention, and distribution of the water (mains and meters). These costs are relatively low compared to other communities who must process their water significantly before being able to use it.

The cost of cleaning every drop of water that you use before returning it to the natural environment is significantly more. Your sewer charges are based upon the measurement of every drop of water that goes through your water meter.

It makes sense then that you should carefully watch your water usage, to lessen your sewer charges as well. Every drop of water that you waste - you must also pay sewer charges for. If you have a leaking faucet, a silent "running" toilet, or the outside hose is left running you will pay not only water charges for that waste, but you will also pay sewer charges for water that wasn't even dirtied.

Waste Hauling for Contractors

The BPU Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) accepts waste for treatment at our facility.

How to qualify to dispose of waste at our WWTP:

Contact the Chief Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator at (716)661-1653 with the following information:

  1. Type of waste
  2. Approximate amount of waste
  3. Estimated timeline for delivery of waste

The contractor will be required to provide the WWTP with a copy of the current waste hauler permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and may be required to provide current laboratory analytical results of the waste.

In certain cases, the Chief Operator may ask for a sample of the waste for testing at the treatment plant.

If approved, the contractor will receive an acceptance letter from the BPU stating the amount of waste accepted per day, delivery hours and the current rate they will be charged per gallon.

General types of waste materials the WWTP accepts:

  • Commercial and municipal waste
  • Residential waste from septic holding tanks
  • Municipal sludge
  • Leachate

We do not accept wastewater generated from fracking operations.

The application process to dispose of waste at our facility takes approximately 1-2 days.

Outside Sewer Maintenance

The Board of Public Utilities employs sewer maintenance employees who are responsible for keeping over 140 miles of sanitary sewer flowing smoothly to the Quaint Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. They respond to calls and determine if the problem is indeed the utility's lines or that of the owner.

Those 140 miles of pipe need continual attention. Much time and effort goes into videotaping and mapping the system, replacing crumbling, cracked or collapsed pipe and removing tree roots that have grown into the pipes themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wastewater

1. Where does the responsibility of the homeowner lie in regard to the sewer lateral?
The homeowner is responsible for the sewer line from the main line to the house.

2. Is it illegal to connect any downspouts, groundwater sump pumps or overflows to the sanitary sewer?
Yes! Downspouts, groundwater sump pumps and overflows should all be connected to the storm sewer because this extraneous flow overloads the treatment plant with water that does not need to be treated.

The BPU advises customers to call their private plumber to rectify their problem.

3. We have had backups at our home previously. What can we do to prevent this situation from happening again?
We recommend that the property owner install a backwater valve. This will help to prevent further backups from the main line.

4. Why is my sewer bill higher than my water bill?
It is more costly to treat contaminated water and return it to the environment to meet all of the health requirements.

Jamestown water customers are very fortunate to receive some of the finest and purest artesian well water in the country with only a minimum of added chlorine to disinfect and fluoride to prevent tooth decay. The costs to provide this water are relatively low because it does not require a great deal of treatment before its delivery to your home or business.

Wastewater, on the other hand, requires a great deal of treatment to condition it for return to its place in the hydrologic cycle. That treatment is very expensive and accounts for the higher expense to clean wastewater.

5. Will I be billed for sewer when I fill my swimming pool or can the fee be waived?
Yes, you will be billed for sewer on the water you use to fill your swimming pool.

Your sewer bill is determined by the amount of water that you run through your water meter.

The Department of Environmental Conservation law states that pool water is considered contaminated water (gray water). Pool water contains chemicals that should be emptied directly into the sanitary sewer to be treated properly and not emptied into lawns or the storm sewer.

**To see how much those charges will be, run your pool measurements through the usage calculator in the Water Division section of this web site.

6. Am I allowed to install my own sewer line?
On the homeowner's property, this is permissible, but must meet the plumbing code and be inspected. If the repair is on city property the work must be done by a licensed master plumber and a bonded contractor. It is recommended that a licensed plumber do any major repairs or installations.

7. Can I, as a homeowner, do plumbing in my own home?
Yes, provided that you are living in the home and the project should be inspected.

8. Does the BPU have records of the location of my sewer?
We do have records of sewer lateral connections in the City of Jamestown and the Village of Falconer. However, some connections were never recorded and no information is available.

9. What type of sewer lateral do I have at my home?
This information can most likely be determined by calling the BPU Sewer Maintainence office at 661-1652 However, some information from older homes was never recorded.

Tour the Wastewater Treatment Plant

One hundred forty miles of sewer main varying from eight inches to 60 inches in diameter, collect wastewater from approximately 40,000 customers and transport it to the BPU’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) on Quaint road in Falconer, NY.

By the time your waste reaches the treatment plant, it is not recognized as the waste you ground up in your garbage disposal or flushed down your toilet. The action of the waste being washed through mains breaks it up into tiny particles which are suspended in the water.

Mechanically operated bar screens remove large objects and debris which may plug downstream piping and equipment. Some examples of items captured in the bar screens are sticks, small rocks, and occasionally small children’s toys and dentures.

The wastewater then passes through the grit removal system, which removes any sand, stone chips, and cinders that may damage pumps.

Primary clarifiers remove coarse solids by settling and removing floating solids, oil and grease by skimming. Sludge that settles to the bottom is pumped to thickeners. WWTP personnel skim the floating solids off the tank into a trough which goes into a bin for removal offsite.

After passing through the clarifiers, the wastewater enters the trickling filter process. Wastewater is pumped underground beneath two trickling filters and up through a central 18 foot rotating column through spray arms extending from the center column. The wastewater is sprayed over plastic media, which is 16 feet deep and is enclosed by a circular wall. Water pressure causes the arms to move so wastewater is continuously sprayed onto the media. As the water trickles down through the plastic media, natural-occurring microscopic organisms that have attached themselves to the plastic media, eat the organic materials left in the wastewater. As the organisms die off they are washed off and carried away to the next treatment process.

Secondary clarifiers remove solids produced in the trickling filter process by settling.

The wastewater then goes through the final clarifiers for additional settling and removal of solids before going through the rapid sand filters. The sand beds filter out particles as the water passes through the sand. As the beds fill up and reach capacity, a travelling bridge moves over the surface and vacuums the particles away from the sand. Chlorine is added at this treatment stage to disinfect the water before it goes through chlorine contact tanks, which give more time for the chlorine to treat the water. Sodium Bisulfite is added at this stage to remove any chlorine still present in the water before it is discharged into Cassadaga Creek.

The solids collected throughout the plant processes go to the thickeners, where the sludge volume is reduced by settling and decanting.

Thickened sludge is fed to anaerobic digestion tanks for stabilization. Anaerobic digestion is a biological decomposition process that occurs in closed, heated and mixed tanks. This process reduces the volume of sludge, creates methane gas and renders the material more conducive to dewatering.

Methane produced from the digestion process is utilized in a micro-turbine which generates electricity to offset electrical needs at the WWTP. A methane boiler utilizes methane to produce heat for buildings and helps to heat the digesters.

Two belt-type filter presses dewater the stabilized sludge from the digesters. The sludge is conditioned with polymer to separate the water from the sludge before it reaches the press units. The presses squeeze water out of the sludge before it is dropped into bins and taken to the landfill for disposal.

Inflow and Infiltration

Wastewater is delivered to a treatment plant through a system of municipal sewer pipelines. In our community, this amounts to over 140 miles, all connecting each domestic and industrial customer to the Wastewater Treatment Plant at the end of the pipeline. Pipes settle, manholes crack, brick and mortar crumble. No sewer system is ever completely watertight.

Long ago, as the Jamestown area was settled and developed and so, too, our entire country, a main concern of builders was to drain water away from building and streets as quickly as possible. Ditches and culverts were dug out to drain water efficiently. Over the centuries, the land itself was shaped to meet the needs of growing communities; hills were leveled, roads were cut, wetlands were dredged or filled. Forests gave way to farm fields. Dirt roads were paved and parking lots covered open areas around buildings. The surfaces of urban areas became impervious, resulting in more runoff. Communities attempted to solve the runoff problem by installing street drains and miles of storm sewer pipe to shunt the huge volumes of rainwater or melting snow into storm sewers which ran the water directly into lakes, streams and rivers. These storm sewers were different from sanitary sewers that were built to carry away domestic and industrial wastes.

Treating the wastewater that comes to the plant via the sewer system should be challenge enough however, in today's world that challenge is heightened by the intrusion of ground and surface water. Called INFLOW when the water enters the sewer above ground or from connections with storm sewers and INFILTRATION when it enters the pipes below ground, the process is usually called "I and I."

How much inflow enters the system depends on the number of low lying manhole covers and cross connections with the storm drainage system. The amount of infiltration depends on the number and size of cracks, holes, and leaky joints in the piping. When it rains, large volumes of "I and I" per person per day can add a significant amount to a community's processing costs, costs to treat water that has not been polluted. Treating the water is expensive because usually more capacity must be added to the treatment plant.

Efforts to correct "I and I" are sometimes ineffective and also expensive. But sometimes 80% of the problem can be corrected by finding and repairing 20% of the leaks. It's hardest to find the right 20%. Finding leaks is sometimes harder than fixing them, but fixing them is even more expensive.

The BPU Wastewater Division is attempting to solve "I and I" problems by:

  1. Identifying the specifics and exact locations of problems through customer surveys and inspections as well as an inflow and infiltration (I & I) study of the entire sewer system;

  2. Undertaking corrective measures where identified primarily by diverting roof drains and footer drains away from the sanitary sewer system.

  3. Working with the affected customers on immediate measures so they can purchase and install necessary materials to help prevent sewer backup;

  4. Working with the DPW to identify, verify, and correct any problem that may be found in the storm sewer system.

This diagram shows the plumbing of a typical house of the 1950s and 1960s. The downspout surface water drains into the sanitary sewer.

Many homes in this area have their roof downspouts and footer drains improperly draining into the sanitary sewer rather than the storm sewers. In times of wet weather, this extra volume of water, multiplied by many homes, could overflow the sanitary sewers causing the system to back up and relieve itself at the point of least resistance, which could be the homeowner's basement.

This diagram shows the first floor and basement elevations of a home with an appropriate connection to the community's sanitary sewer. It also shows an incorrect connection of the house's storm water downspouts to the sanitary sewer. The rain downspouts should have been connected to the storm sewer.

BPU Wastewater Division staff will inspect your home for water drainage free of charge and offer suggestions to correct any problems found.


Wastewater Division History

The City of Jamestown's first sewer treatment facility built in the 1920s, was replaced in 1956 by a primary treatment plant which consisted of screening, filtering, and settling out some harmful substances and objects.

Secondary treatment, which means treating the used water with chemicals or bacteria that destroy the remaining harmful substances, came in 1966 when trickling filters and secondary clarifiers were added.

In 1975, an engineering study of the facility recommended an advanced degree of wastewater treatment be undertaken by upgrading the facilities to tertiary capabilities.

The $13,656,000 project, begun in 1983 and funded by federal grants for 75% of the cost, state grants of 12.5% and local funding of 12.5%, brought the city's sewage treatment into the tertiary level through nitrification by adding the rotating biological contactors or RBCs. More than 93% of the suspended solids and oxygen demanding matter is now removed from Jamestown's raw sewage, in addition to 80% of its nitrogen compounds.

In 1994, the City of Jamestown designated responsibility for the city's wastewater treatment to the Board of Public Utilities.

Falconer, NY residents became customers of the BPU Wastewater Division in 1994.

In 2000, the Wastewater Treatment Plant's certification was increased to support receiving and treating 12,000,000 gallons of sewage per day. In 2013, approximately 30,000-35,000 gallons are treated daily.

Trickling Filters Rebuilt

Click here to download powerpoint presentation

In 2008, BPU wastewater employees worked the rebuild the BPU’s two trickling filters over a seven-month time period. Employees accomplished 90 percent of the work themselves, finishing the project early and below budget at an approximate cost of $4 million compared to the projected $6 million cost.

As wastewater enters the sewer plant, it passes through a series of ponds, called settling tanks or primary clarifiers. In the clarifiers, more than 90 percent of solid waste is removed from the water. From the clarifiers, the water is pumped underground beneath the trickling filters and pumped up through a central 18 foot rotating column. Spray arms extend from the center column.

The wastewater is pumped from the column into the arms and sprayed or “trickled” over the top of thousands of a plastic honeycomb-like media. The pile of the media is 16 feet high, surrounded by a large circular wall. Water pressure moves the arms (without the need for electricity), causing them to rotate continuously, spraying wastewater over the media pile.

As the water trickles all the way down through the plastic media, natural-occurring bacteria which have attached themselves to the plastic media, eat the organic materials left in the wastewater. Once the wastewater gets to the bottom of the trickling filter, it is pumped up the column again and the process is repeated. Most of the wastewater passes through the trickling filter three or four times, ridding it of organic materials.

From the trickling filters, the water flows underground to more clarifiers and finally, through sand filters. Chlorine is added to the water for disinfection, but later removed, so that chlorine is not added to nature when the clean effluent water is returned to its treated state into the Cassadaga Creek.

The trickling filter project at the BPU WWTP, increased the trickling filters from a height of one foot to a height of 14-15 feet above the ground. The additional heat of the trickling filters eliminated the need for rotating biological contractors (RBCs), another method of treating organic waste, utilizing rotating plastic blades. The BPU’s RBCs had aged to the point that they required constant and expensive maintenance.

Digester Cover Project

A $2.55 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2011 assisted in a $3.1 million WWTP upgrade of the digester covers at the plant.

Improvements included the replacement of two 53-year old digester covers and the addition of microturbines to permit the recovery and burning of methane gas as a result of the wastewater treatment process. The methane gas is used to produce energy to offset the electrical and heating needs of the WWTP.

A wastewater treatment digester breaks down sludge into dirt and methane gas. The methane gas is captured under digester covers that appear as domes or as large fabric balloons above digesters. In the BPU project, a fixed-seal dome cover replaced one of the covers, while a larger balloon style cover with a greater capacity to store methane took the place of the second cover.

New Belt Filter Presses

In 2017, BPU personnel began demolition of the current 35 year-old Komline Sanderson belt press units. Over a year-long project, both belt presses were replaced with 2.0 meter BDP belt presses and a new BDP polymer system. The project was originally budgeted for $2 million with final costs coming in at $1.25 million, a substantial savings for the utility. The new belt presses are able to achieve 25% solids, which are significantly drier than the old press units. Both presses now can function with minimal operator supervision. This completed project upgrades solids handling at the WWTP with a drier final product and less labor cost to operate and maintain the units.

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