Johnstown, NY Water Resources

By Sharon H. Fitzgerald on March 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm EST


Water‚ water‚ everywhere and‚ yes‚ there’s lots to drink. Of all Fulton County’s natural resources‚ its abundant water supply is an enviable attribute that for decades supported the area’s leather-tanning operations and now lures a variety of industries and the jobs they create.

“At first‚ we didn’t really know our water resources were such a big deal until we started hearing about other communities that don’t have water that industries need for their products. It’s become a very big selling point for us‚” says Lisa McCoy‚ marketing director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. Dubbed the “Land of 44 Lakes‚” Fulton County boasts pure‚ high-quality water from the Adirondack Mountains.

Easy Transportation Access

It was the water‚ easy transportation access and Fulton County’s strong dairy business that attracted the Greek yogurt maker FAGE (pronounced fah-yeh) to locate its first U.S. operation in the Johnstown Industrial Park. The plant should be operational in early 2008 with about 60 employees‚ “but that number will probably climb‚” McCoy says.

The popularity of FAGE yogurt in America is burgeoning‚ yet its ingredients are no secret: milk and yogurt cultures with no additives. Because of already soaring sales‚ FAGE doubled the size of the plant it initially intended to build before ground was broken‚ going from a $35 million to a $70 million facility.

“This is a very intensive project. There’s a lot to it‚” McCoy explains. “The equipment that they use is very high-tech‚ so putting together the plant is a lot more than your average construction project.”

Another lure to Fulton County for FAGE and other industries is the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facilities‚ with the capacity to treat more than 13 million gallons of wastewater daily. According to Joseph Cellary‚ the lab director‚ the plant currently averages just 6 million to 8 million gallons daily‚ leaving untapped capacity available for industrial growth.

“About 40 percent of our incoming flow is attributed to industries in the two cities‚” Cellary says.

One large customer is a Schenectady-area dairy‚ which trucks its whey to the plant.

“The whey that comes in is fairly high-strength waste water‚ but we actually feed that directly to our anaerobic digesters. As it’s broken down in those digesters‚ one of the byproducts of that breakdown is methane gas‚ which we call biogas. We then burn that in engines to generate approximately 38 percent of our electricity on-site‚” Cellary explains.

Environmentally Friendly

This environmentally friendly process is expected to increase when FAGE‚ less than a mile from the wastewater treatment plant‚ opens its doors.

“When FAGE goes online‚ they will be discharging whey to us as well as normal sanitary and industrial waste‚” he says. “Based on their early projections‚ they will probably become our No. 1 user.”

Euphrates Inc. – a national feta cheese manufacturing facility – is also tied into the wastewater system and enjoys the area’s abundant water supply. When Turkish-born Hamdi Ulukaya attended a New York college in the 1990s‚ he bemoaned the quality of America’s feta cheese and opened a factory in Johnstown to produce feta according to his family’s recipe.

“Basically‚ it’s the American success story‚” McCoy says. And it’s a story that began with the simplest of ingredients – Fulton County water.

Read more on businesses in Johnstown, NY.

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