BOSTON — EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Ira Leighton along with state and local officials broke ground this month on a wastewater treatment facility in Fairhaven, Mass. The wastewater infrastructure project, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is helping to create green jobs, boost the local economy, improve aging water infrastructure and protect human health and the environment.
The Town of Fairhaven was awarded $7.9 million in a principle forgiveness loan through the ARRA and MA DEP/SRF Green Infrastructure Reserve to implement several renewable energy projects at their wastewater treatment facility (WWTF). The funding will go towards a renewable, biogas/anaerobic digestion fueled combined heat and power system and three solar photovoltaic rooftop panels. Additionally, the town is working with a private entity to add a wind turbine facility to their growing renewable energy portfolio.
“This Recovery project not only improves energy efficiency, water reuse and conservation — it is a long term investment in the community,” said Leighton. “Clean, safe water is one of the bedrock foundations of communities and an economy that can grow and thrive. This money is an important start to upgrade our aging infrastructure, while creating well-paid, ‘green’ jobs.”
The largest portion of Fairhaven funding is going to the Biogas/Anaerobic Digestion with Combined Heat and Power (Cogeneration) Facility. Although utilized for many decades, this will be the second wastewater facility in the state to generate energy by converting sewerage sludge to biogas, and burning it to create electricity and heat. It saves communities money both by offsetting electricity use and greatly reducing sludge disposal costs.
“Fairhaven’s green infrastructure projects have put it on the leading-edge of the Commonwealth’s renewable energy revolution,” said Laurie Burt, MassDEP commissioner. “The $7.9 million in SRF/ARRA Green Infrastructure funding will cover the cost of installing solar panels and anaerobic digester technology at the treatment plant, saving thousands of dollars in energy costs, reducing the community’s carbon footprint, and putting people back to work.”
The Green Reserve project will save the town $300,000 per year in electricity costs and offset about 1,800 tons per year of CO2 emissions — the equivalent of over 7,000,000 miles of travel in a car. Additionally, the wind turbine project will contribute another $165,000 in electricity savings and offset an additional 6,000 tons of CO2.
“The Town of Fairhaven is excited to receive this federal stimulus money that will in the short term, stimulate the local economy and create new jobs,” said Brian K. Bowcock, chair of the Fairhaven Board of Selectmen. “In the long term this project will improve the town’s infrastructure and save tens of thousands of dollars in waste disposal.”