Pennsylvania American Water’s primary responsibility is the delivery of clean, affordable, reliable water and wastewater services. Our commitment to the environment extends beyond the quality of our water and into the heart of who we are as your local water company. We are stewards of the communities we serve, and we are proud of the role we play in protecting our environment. After all – healthy environments promote clean water, and clean water promotes healthy communities.
We could undoubtedly provide examples of the positive environmental impacts of every single infrastructure upgrade project we completed in 2020. For every old water line we replaced, we reduced the amount of treated water lost underground through leakage – reducing the amount of energy and chemicals needed to deliver clean water to our customers’ taps and decreasing our carbon footprint. For every automated leak detection logger we installed, we increased our ability to locate and repair leaky pipes before leaks developed into large breaks, which reduces overall repair costs. For every old sewer line we replaced, we reduced the potential for untreated sewage to escape or overflow into the environment. For every water storage tank we rehabilitated, we extended the life of critical infrastructure that contributes to maintaining water quality and availability. For every booster pump and lift station we upgraded with new pumps or motors that require less energy to move the same amount of water, we reduced our overall energy consumption. And, for every treatment upgrade we completed at our water and wastewater treatment facilities, we increased the effectiveness and efficiency of our treatment processes while improving pollution prevention and control in our wastewater systems to reduce discharges into the environment.
A number of our projects also focused on enhancing our system’s resilience. Pennsylvania American Water is committed to increasing water system resilience to prepare for and respond to more extreme events. Recent history shows that the frequency and severity of weather events, as well as the stress on water supplies related to drought, flooding and contamination events makes the resiliency of our systems more important than ever. Across our company’s national footprint, American Water spends approximately 8 percent of total capital investment on resiliency projects each year to address these risks and maintain continuous service to customers.
We also focus on water efficiency, which we view as just as important as water conservation. Water efficiency means improving practices and technology to deliver water services in ways that reduce operating costs, energy consumption, and the need for water infrastructure expansion. Delivering water more efficiently benefits our customers by helping to keep rates affordable, and benefits our planet by leaving more fresh water for future use and improving the ambient water quality and aquatic habitat.
We are constantly looking for ways to protect drinking water supplies and help ensure water is available for future generations. Part of that commitment includes helping our customers understand what they can do to help. We promote conservation and environmental stewardship through a variety of ways, including community events, customer bills, media and social media campaigns, e-newsletters and more. We also collaborate with local watershed organizations and state and local agencies on efforts to protect sources of water used as drinking water supplies.
Specific examples of 2020 projects:
We invested $3 million to eliminate sanitary sewer discharges from 44 residences into abandoned mines in Dravosburg Borough – removing a source of pollution into the Monongahela River. The company acquired this wastewater system in 2017 and completed this important project in 2020, which included the construction of two new sewage pump stations and approximately 4,800 feet of sewer main and 2,600 feet of sewer laterals.
Water Treatment Plant Upgrades
In 2020-2021, we’re upgrading our Butler, Hershey, New Castle, Norristown, Silver Spring, Stony Garden, West Shore and Yardley water treatment plants with new ultraviolet light disinfection systems to provide another layer of protection against viruses and bacteria that could be present in surface water sources. In addition to the UV system, we’re making energy efficient upgrades and adding new chemical storage and feed systems to enhance safety for our employees and the community.
We recently made major capacity and treatment upgrades at our Scranton wastewater treatment plant, which we acquired in 2016. We also added new Combined Sewer Overflow equalization tanks to prevent combined sewer overflows into the Lackawanna River and Roaring Brook.
Recent Environmental Sustainability Awards
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