When Cheshire first began purchasing methanol in 2006 for use in the Water Pollution Control Facility, the costs were astronomical. A volatile market led bids to come in at over $2 per gallon and made committing to a year of purchases nearly impossible.
Fast-forward a half decade and Dennis Dievert, Supervisor of the Waste Water Treatment Plant, said a three-town partnership paired with monthly bidding has led to savings of nearly $40,000 per year in Cheshire. Those savings could be even larger – up to $100,000 – in Southington, where the community orders nearly three times as much methanol per month.
A partnership between Cheshire, Meriden and Southington has proven in recent years to be extremely beneficial in controlling costs and streamlining operations and with new federal mandates coming down the pike, the combined effort will only become more important, officials in each community said Wednesday.
“We recognize that there are strength in numbers, whether it comes to purchasing or in something like the phosphorus mandate that the towns are now dealing with,” said Jim Grappone, acting town engineer in Southington. “It’s always easier when you are not standing alone.”
Since 2009, the towns have worked closely together in an effort to reduce costs. After ordering methanol, a chemical necessary in reducing the nitrates within wastewater, alone for almost three years, Dievert said Cheshire was approached by Meriden about conducting a bid partnership.
Southington, which was also in the process of onboarding their denitrification plant, immediately joined as well said John DeGioia, superintendent of the Southington Water Pollution Control Facility.
According to the most recent request for bids, which is available on the Cheshire town website, the supply and delivery of methanol will be done in a series of separate monthly contracts for up to 7,000 gallons each month delivered to Cheshire, up to 7,000 gallons each month delivered to Meriden, and up to 20,000 gallons each month delivered to Southington.
Dievert said the savings were immediately seen in Cheshire, with prices dropping from over $2 per gallon each year to a steady $1.35 to $1.45 per gallon and with the monthly bidding, the prices have remained consistent ever since.
It’s tough to calculate the exact savings, Dievert said, but it has no doubt saved “anywhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per year."
“It’s difficult to calculate the exact savings because there are so many factors, but there is no doubt that this partnership has truly provided benefits for each community,” Dievert said. “Just looking at the spreadsheets, there’s no doubt we have seen a competitive advantage as a result.”
Calculating saving in Meriden is even more difficult as the city operated alone in purchasing for just a short time, according to Meriden Purchasing Officer Wilma Petro. She said the prices “are certainly lower” but not as much as seen in Cheshire.
Southington has never purchased the methanol outside of the partnership, DeGioia said.
While the methanol purchasing served as a starting point, the three-town agreement has grown to be even more important over the past year with from wastewater sources in an effort to clean up the Quinnipiac River.
Under the mandate, which is being implemented and enforced by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Southington is one of four towns within the Quinnipiac River Watershed that will be required to drastically reduce their phosphorus discharge levels. The current plan presented by the DEEP calls for a maximum discharge level of 0.2 mg/L.
It’s a requirement that Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback and Michael Milone said could come at costs in excess of $20 million for each community to implement. The towns have worked together to fight the mandates over the course of 2012.
“As we continue to deal with these requirements, the partnership is only going to become that much more important for all of the towns involved,” Grappone said.