BRYN MAWR, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aqua America Inc. (NYSE: WTR) is recognizing the seventh annual Infrastructure Week, May 13-20, 2019, helping raise awareness of the critical state of infrastructure across the United States. A leading contributor to water and wastewater infrastructure repair and replacement, Aqua plans to invest more than $555 million this year across the eight states where the company operates to improve systems.
“As one of the largest water and wastewater utilities in the country, Aqua is committed to thoughtful and continuous investment in the infrastructure that delivers water and wastewater service to our customers safely and reliably,” said Aqua Chairman and CEO Christopher Franklin. “We strongly believe capital investments from private utility companies can be a large part of the solution to the country’s infrastructure problems. Infrastructure Week is an excellent opportunity to showcase how our team’s work to replace aging infrastructure improves the lives of our customers.”
The dire state of water infrastructure in the U.S. has been well documented. In a recent study published by Utah State University, researchers found water main break rates have increased 27% in the past six years alone. The EPA also reports that there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks per year in the U.S., with approximately $2.6 billion lost as water mains leak trillions of gallons of treated drinking water. These statistics quantify the need for increased investment in the nation’s water infrastructure and underscore why Aqua is so committed to this cause.
Making these improvements translates to meaningful system impacts. Through Aqua’s $1 billion investment in infrastructure in southeast Pennsylvania between 2000 and 2015, customers have seen a reduction from nearly 25 main breaks per 100 miles of pipe, to fewer than 10 main breaks per 100 miles of pipe. This reduced water loss and the volume and cost of emergency repairs, reduced service interruptions, and improved water service for customers.
Over the past five years across the company, Aqua has invested $1.5 billion in infrastructure improvements, including hundreds of miles of pipe replacement and plant upgrades. This year, infrastructure projects are planned across all eight of Aqua's states to ensure safe and reliable water reaches each customer. Some of the largest projects taking place are highlighted below.
- Aqua Indiana – A $3.2 million rehabilitation project at Aqua Indiana’s 2-million-gallon capacity South Haven wastewater treatment plant was completed in 2018. The project includes a transition from the use of chlorine gas to ultraviolet light for disinfection, an improved screening system to better manage storm water inflow, as well as updated energy-efficient blowers, expected to reduce electricity costs by up to 20 percent.
- Aqua Illinois – Throughout 2019, Aqua Illinois will carry out a major capital improvement at the Lake Vermilion dam, originally constructed in 1925. Aqua will replace 11 floodgates and carry out embankment and dam spillway modifications as part of its ongoing efforts to protect this vital water source. Construction is expected to be completed in 2020, with efforts to minimize any lake disruption.
- Aqua New Jersey – For Aqua New Jersey, construction is underway on a $12 million project to build three new iron removal treatment facilities in Bayville, Berkley Township, in Ocean County. The new facilities will treat 1.4 million gallons of water per day from a new groundwater supply well, plus three existing groundwater supply wells. This project, scheduled to be completed by the end of August 2019, will help provide safe and reliable water for customers by removing naturally occurring iron from groundwater supply wells, while also supporting the growing community in Berkley Township.
- Aqua North Carolina – Aqua North Carolina is completing installation of six new filter systems to address discolored water in Wake County. Since August 2018, crews have been working on installing new iron and manganese filters that will remove naturally occurring minerals from the water before it enters the community’s distribution pipes. The total cost of all six filter installations is estimated at nearly $2.1 million and all projects are expected to be completed by mid-2019. Aqua currently has an additional eight filter projects set to begin throughout North Carolina and another 12 currently under review with the North Carolina Public Staff – the independent agency that reviews, investigates and makes appropriate recommendations to the North Carolina Utilities Commission with respect to the reasonableness of rates charged and the adequacy of service provided by any public utility.
- Aqua Ohio – Aqua Ohio’s Struthers water treatment plant, in service since 1916, is undergoing a $12 million renovation to the include new chemical storage and injection buildings and chemical feed systems, three new 146,000-gallon contact clarifier tanks and new electrical building and equipment. The main purpose of the plant renovation is to replace equipment that has reached the end of its expected useful life, modernize treatment techniques for operational efficiency and to meet future supply and regulatory demands.
- Aqua Pennsylvania – This year, a large part of Aqua Pennsylvania’s $323 million capital infrastructure program will be spent replacing aging water mains. Aqua credits its main replacement program with a dramatic reduction in service interruptions caused by main breaks in southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2000, the number of main breaks per 100 miles of pipe was 25. By the end of 2018, following an investment of $1.2 billion, the number of breaks per 100 miles of main has been reduced by more than 60% to fewer than 10. Aqua plans to replace an additional 600 miles of water main between 2019 and 2023.
- Aqua Texas – Aqua Texas is building its first-ever surface water treatment plant to serve Barton Creek Lakeside, a community on Lake Travis about 30 miles northwest of Austin. Aqua currently serves customers in this area from groundwater wells, but supply has decreased as drought conditions have caused groundwater levels to decline. Aqua designed its surface water treatment plant to meet the challenges of Texas weather, like hurricanes and heavy rain, that can increase the cloudiness of water and make it more difficult to treat. The estimated cost for the project is $6.1 million, and it should be completed by the end of 2019.
- Aqua Virginia – Last year, Aqua Virginia completed the installation of new, larger filter systems to replace old filters at three water treatment stations in the Lake Land’Or subdivision in Caroline County. Aqua expects the new filter systems to remove naturally occurring minerals from the groundwater more effectively, make plant operations more efficient and improve the look and taste of the water for customers. This year, Aqua is installing a third pump for Fluvanna County’s Lake Monticello water treatment plant, which draws water from the Rivanna River. The new pump will help ensure sufficient water supply for the community in case of an emergency.
Aqua America is the second-largest publicly traded water utility based in the U.S., and serves more than 3 million people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.