The Chemung County Sewer District will soon turn to the power of the sun to kill bacteria and viruses in wastewater before its discharged into the Chemung River.

The new site of the $4.5 million ultra-violet filtration plant will go where the current filtration plant is. Construction crews are constructing the channels where UV light-rods will be placed. Wastewater will flow around the light-rods, killing the bacteria and viruses.

Matt Hourihan, the CCSD executive director, said this new plant will kill more bacteria and viruses than the previous disinfecting method which used chlorine. 

“There was actually for several years no disinfection process at this treatment plant,” Hourihan explained, “until the EPA and DEC wanted to determine what their changing limits and requirements were going to be with disinfection moving forward.”

The District also said it is more practical since it stopped using chlorine several years ago when state regulations required more chemicals be used to remove the chlorine.

“So the people of our communities are no longer contributing to contaminants in the water to where we’re not adding contaminants,” Hourihan said. “We’re removing as much as possible  so that the waters can be enjoyed by the public, recreationally, fishing, boating and the like.”

About $3 million in funding is coming from state agencies, while the remaining $1.5 million will be picked up by the bill payers. That charge is included in a recent sewer hike.

Construction is expected to finish by the end of this year so testing can be done in the Winter and Spring. The UV plant is scheduled to be in operation by next summer.