Infrastructure improvements in Pennsylvania were cited as the reason none of the 1.4 million people who get their water service from Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc. (Aqua) were without service during the storms that brought record-setting rainfall throughout the Commonwealth during August. That was the testimony of Aqua Vice President Production Marc Lucca before Pennsylvania’s Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. Lucca credited the company’s performance to the extensive infrastructure investment it continues to make throughout the state.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Lucca quoting Benjamin Franklin. “That has been Aqua’s philosophy in preparing for events that have the potential to disrupt our service.” Lucca said Aqua has spent several millions of dollars to prevent storm damage and has flood-proofed several existing structures and replaced other so that they are above flood-water elevations. He specifically cited:
- Increasing the height of the flood wall at its largest water treatment facility—Pickering Creek plant in Chester County
- Replacing the old raw-water pump stations at the Schuylkill River in Chester County and Perkiomen Creek in Montgomery County
- Flood-proofing at a major well (Cabot Well Station) in Montgomery County
- Installation of emergency generators at all surface water treatment plants
- Completed updates to the company’s flood emergency response plans
Lucca said emergency generators played a critical role when Hurricane Lee caused widespread power outages caused its Crum Creek Water Treatment Plant in Delaware County to rely on generators for about 14 hours. “This plant serves Springfield Hospital, which was never without water,” said Lucca. He said the nearby Ridley Water Treatment Plant ran for about 50 hours sustaining service for customers including Riddle Memorial Hospital.
In Bradford County, even though the town was flooded, customers—including the Robert Packer Hospital— continued to have water service despite the severe storm. Aqua issued a precautionary boil water advisory for the area because of the flooding. Lucca said, “Aqua mobilized two 2,000-gallon trucks for potable water use at the hospital. They were later used in the town of Sayre for community use during the recovery.”
Aqua has a long history of making significant and necessary infrastructure investments throughout the Commonwealth. Over the past 10 years, Aqua has invested more than $1.6 billion on capital improvements.
Speaking separately, Aqua Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis said, “The examples Marc cited in his testimony demonstrate that prudent investments in drinking water infrastructure works. Acts of nature like extreme weather will always present a threat, but proactive and prudent investments like those made by Aqua Pennsylvania go a long way in reducing that potential.” He added that the infrastructure work the company continues to do also has the added benefit of providing jobs and protecting the environment.
Pennsylvania’s drinking water systems received a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers 2010 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates a 20-year capital investment of $334.8 billion is needed for public water system repairs and replacement of transmission pipes, storage and treatment equipment, and other projects required to protect public health. Aqua’s capital program is consistent with the types of improvements the EPA says are necessary for the nation’s public water systems.
Aqua provides water and wastewater services to approximately 1.4 million people in 30 counties throughout Pennsylvania
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