Over the past several years OCWA has conducted numerous efforts to increase our sustainability and reduce our energy usage. These efforts have been an organizational wide effort and have paid off in reduced energy usage and lower expenditures on energy. OCWA has also been an avid proponent of governmental consolidation. OCWA has worked with numerous communities in Central New York to consolidate the operations of many public water systems. The operations and maintenance of these water systems have been absorbed into the operation of the overall OCWA system. It is much more efficient to operate a large water system and maintain compliance with the ever increasing regulations and monitoring requirements than it is to have to maintain redundant facilities and operations for numerous systems throughout Central New York. These efforts included the consolidation of the following water systems into the OCWA system: Town of Camillus Consolidated Water System, Village of Marcellus Water system, Village of East Syracuse Water System, Village of Minoa Water system, Village of Central Square water system and several others. Due primarily to these consolidation efforts, OCWA’ s number of customers have increased in the time period from 2004 through the end of 2012 from about 83,000 to just less than 95,000, an increase of about 13%. At the same time, OCWA’s energy usage remained relatively the same, or another way of looking at it is our operations became 13% more efficient in energy usage.


Some of the work that we have done to reduce our energy usage includes:

Water Treatment Plant Improvements – In 2008 through 2010 we worked on an improvement project at our Otisco Lake water treatment plant. We included several items in the project which considered the sustainability of our water system. The items were evaluated through the development of an energy model for the facility. Some of the items that were identified to be beneficial and thus were included in the project are:

  • Replacement of windows with insulated, energy efficient windows
  • Installation of a white reflective roof to reduce cooling costs
  • Increased the level of insulation in the roof and siding
  • Installed windows in the new filter area to provide for passive heat gain in the winter and to allow natural lighting
  • Replacement of the boilers with high efficiency, low mass boilers
  • Installed a variable speed drive control system for the plant water system
  • Replaced existing lights with new high efficiency fluorescent lights
  • Replaced exit signs and lighting with LED lights
  • Installed occupancy sensors in low traffic areas
  • Replaced the backup generator with a higher efficiency generator
  • Enhancements to the filters and construction of two new filters which will allow the filters to operate at a consistent year round peak flow rate in lieu of having to operate at reduced flows during times of high turbidity and algae growth in the lake
  • Incorporating air scour in the backwash sequence which greatly reduced the amount of backwash water required
  • Replacement of the pipe gallery dehumidifier with one that utilizes the thermal energy in the plant water itself replacing the original all electric unit

These improvements at the water treatment plant resulted in a reduction of:

Electrical Demand: 25%
Electrical Usage: 35%




Increased Use of Otisco Lake Water – We have made changes in the distribution system operation and control facilities to facilitate increased usage of Otisco Lake and decreasing usage of MWB's Lake Ontario water. OCWA's Otisco Lake water has a higher starting gradient (735' at clearwell). While Lake Ontario has a much lower gradient of 245', which requires MWB and/or OCWA to conduct more pumping to get Lake Ontario water to our customers. Using more of OCWA's Otisco Lake water reduces pumping costs and energy consumption.

LED Lighting Project – OCWA has implemented a project to replace exterior lighting at several of our operations centers, pump stations and tanks. We are replacing the exterior lights with new, modern, high efficiency LED lights. The new LED lights are using significantly less energy than the old lights and the lights last longer. The project is being implemented in a teamwork effort through a company called SmartWatt who is managing a National Grid incentive program. The energy savings alone will allow us to recoup our investment in less than three years. But not only do we save by reduced electrical usage, but we save additionally through reduced maintenance costs by replacing the bulbs much less often.

Pump Station Improvements – We have installed variable frequency drives in several pump stations which allows us to operate the pumps at lower speeds during times of lower water demands, thus better matching the needs of our customers and reducing the energy used.

Northern Concourse Building Improvements – We recently completed various improvements to the Northern Concourse building. As with the water treatment plant project we have incorporated several green aspects including:

  • Replacing the roof with a white reflective energy star roof
  • Increasing the roof insulation from an average of R-12 to an average of R-30
  • Replaced the remaining single paned windows with double pane energy efficient windows
  • Replaced old cast iron boilers with new high efficiency condensing boilers
  • Replaced old air handlers with new high efficiency air handlers
  • Replaced the hot water unit heaters in the garage with infrared heaters
  • Modified the HVAC ductwork system to provide for zones based upon occupancy and locations
  • Installed a digitally controlled variable volume air handling system with each air handler matched to system needs via a variable speed drive



These improvements have resulted in an energy usage reduction of 15 to 20%.

Transportation – Each year we evaluate the potential to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles and the options for alternative fuel vehicles. To date we have not found it to be cost effective nor operationally effective to purchase any alternative fuel vehicles however we have been acquiring smaller more fuel efficient vehicles for departments and work tasks that do not require the use of the less fuel efficient large pickup trucks we had historically purchased. Other transportation related activities include:

  • Purchased new cargo vans for meter repair department with engine governors to reduce speed and energy usage.
  • Database utilized for tracking vehicle fuel usage and maintenance to optimize fuel usage and maintenance schedules
  • Reduced loads being carried on vehicles to maximize fuel economy and to reduce wear and tear on vehicles.
  • Provided crew trucks with more seating and outfitted trucks with trailers to haul safety and field equipment.
  • Purchased smaller, more fuel efficient crew trucks
  • Purchased smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles for meter reading.