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AUBURN — The city of Auburn is moving forward on a project to upgrade ultraviolet disinfection equipment at the wastewater treatment plant. 

During the Auburn City Council meeting Thursday, councilors authorized the purchase of the new UV equipment. The city will purchase the equipment from a wastewater treatment company called Suez for $462,000. 

The city council approved a $2.25 million bond in March to finance the project, which is expected to cost $2 million. The remaining $250,000 will be used for other wastewater management projects. The city had applied in the past for a state grant to finance the project, but was unsuccessful in receiving the funding.  

"We decided we better self fund and move forward with this project," Director of Municipal Utilities Seth Jensen said. 

Jensen said this project is necessary because the UV system is over 25 years old and cannot handle the wastewater treatment plant's maximum capacity of 24.5 million gallons per day. The current system caps out at about 19 million gallons per day and the city spends about $40,000 a year in repairs to the equipment. 

The next step, Jensen said, is for the city to hire a contractor to install the equipment. He said the installation will take place in January and finish in March. Jensen said the timing is "critical" because the city's permit with the DEC does not require its wastewater to be treated with UV disinfection during the winter months because there is less bacteria in the water due to the colder weather.

"We're only required to treat with UV seasonally," Jensen explained after the meeting. "We don't, we treat year round but this greatly reduces the cost of construction because otherwise we would have to install some type of temporary UV treatment system."

The UV treatment process is the last step wastewater goes through before it empties out into the Owasco River. The primary goal of this process is to kill any remaining bacteria that may be left in the water, Jensen said. 

"It's a good water quality project actually," Jensen said. "We're trying to set the trend for watershed protection and we're leading by example by keeping up with our own equipment." 

In other news 

• Members of the city council and Auburn Police Department went door to door in the Westlake Avenue area of Auburn earlier this week, speaking with residents earlier to hear their concerns about what's going on in the city. 

Mayor Michael Quill said the goal of the walk was to find out what's on residents' minds and get feedback about what the city is doing right or wrong. 

"We just want to get the message out that we care, we're working to keep this a great place to live," Quill said, adding that he appreciates the police department's willingness to participate in the outreach. 

Councilor Terry Cuddy said the experience was one of the highlights of his five years on the city council. Councilors reported that residents expressed concerns about goings on in the city, but also praised the work the police department has done in the community.  

Councilors and APD will do another walk Tuesday evening in the area of North Division, Washington and Seymour streets. 

• The last day to swim at Casey Park pool will be Sunday, Aug. 26. The pool will close at 6 p.m. 

• There will be no city council meeting next week, on Thursday, Aug. 30. The council will resume its regular meeting schedule on Sept. 6. All meetings will be at 6 p.m. at Memorial City Hall. 

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Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or natalie.brophy@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie

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City Reporter