Around New England

Hot Wastewater From Biomass Plant To Melt Snow and Solve Northern New Hampshire City’s Problems

August 16, 2022

A $19.5 million federal grant to use hot wastewater from a biomass plant to melt snow by heating streets and sidewalks downtown is what the northern New Hampshire city of Berlin needs to turn things around, the city’s mayor said.

“Finally putting money into the heart of our city. That’s what we’ve been needing this whole time,” Mayor Paul Grenier said Friday, August 12, while touring downtown with New Hampshire U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, according to The Conway Daily Sun.

The newspaper described the project this way:  “The city will use hot condenser water from the 75-watt biomass plant, pump it across the river on a specific pipe bridge, circulate it through the downtown in the underground piping, and then return the cooled water back to the biomass plant to be used again.”

The biomass plant, Burgess BioPower, has agreed to provide its hot wastewater to the city free of charge.

Berlin’s snow-melt project, which is supposed to make the downtown more accessible during the seven-feet-of-snow-a-year winter, is one of 166 projects totaling more than $2.2 billion approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, part of the federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program.

“Naysayers” have criticized the project, the mayor said, but they won’t feel that way in five years when snow melts quickly downtown.

Grenier, a Democrat, in November 2021 “beat back a strong write-in challenge on behalf of a man who died two weeks before the election,” according to The Conway Daily Times. Grenier, the live candidate, got 50 percent of the vote, while his challenger, who was deceased, got 43 percent.

Berlin – the emphasis is on the first syllable, not the second, as in BUR-lin – is a former paper mill and pulp mill town in Coos County. The city reached its zenith in population in 1930, at about 20,000. It dropped to about 15,000 in 1970, and is now around 9,300.


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