October 11. 2013 9:52PM

New Allenstown septage receiving station opens

Union Leader Correspondent

State Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack cuts the ribbon at the new septage receiving station Friday. (Benjamin C. Klein./Union Leader Correspondent)

HOOKSETT — The Allenstown Sewer Commission hosted a ribbon cutting and barbecue Friday afternoon to celebrate the completion of a state-of-the-art septage receiving station.

The first of its kind in the country, Sewer Commission officials say the new septage receiving station, which will allow the receiving station to take material from four septic trucks simultaneously, will help keep costs for rate payers and sewer rates low.

"The purpose of the new building is to be able to take more than one truck at a time. We were experiencing a bottleneck due to the one truck limit. We felt we were losing business because customers had such a long wait time to empty the trucks. Now we can take four trucks at once, which will not only prevent our business from losing customers, but it will help us add more, adding more revenue and keeping rates down," Sewer Superintendent Dana Clement said.

According to sewer officials, business has increased since the facility went fully operational about a month ago, with three new customers added on Friday alone. However, Clement said that the wastewater treatment facility is not only important to the surrounding area, but also the entire state.

"We have a system set up to generate revenue by having a sophisticated facility that can take in the waste of the rest of the state. We take in 20 percent of all septage waste generated in the state. Twenty percent of waste generated in New Hampshire goes out of state, so this keeps money and jobs here," Clement said.

State Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack was there to cut the ribbon and said that the state is very happy that Allenstown has the ability to handle so much of the state's waste.

"It provides an important service for homeowners who rely on septic systems, it is a reliable and cost effective disposal option for them. This also helps and enables communities that don't otherwise have a disposal location by having their material brought here," Burack said.

Taking a year to finish and $275,000 to build, Clement said that not 1 cent of tax payer or rate payer money was used to pay for the new receiving station; instead, the funds were raised through fees generated from septic trucks. To save costs, the experimental system implemented was designed, tested and engineered in-house by sewer employees.

"I don't understand how they did it, the things they did to make this work, it was an experiment, but they straightened out the kinks and got it down and its working almost perfect," Sewer Commission Chair Larry Anderson said.

Clement said sewer employees Jeff Backman and Peter Boettcher were instrumental in the design and implementation of the new system. He said that the impetus for becoming one of, if not the most, important septage treatment stations in the state began in 2005.

"We started this mostly for revenue. We had a hard time in the past getting approval to do various projects due to lack of funding, so we started to look at processing hauled waste to see if we could use that to facilitate funding for projects. It was an experiment then. In our first year we took in 330,000 gallons, now we take in 20 million gallons of waste, and that's just from the trucks," Clement said. The expansion since 2005 has allowed the Allenstown Sewer Department to become almost completely self sufficient.

"I would have to say that it has the highest level of self funding in the state. It is almost completely self funded," Clement said.