The Delaware Valley Journal recently posted an article about municipal wastewater systems in southeastern Pennsylvania. I’d like to share Aqua Pennsylvania’s perspective about how we partner with communities to improve their water and wastewater infrastructure.
The reasons to sell a water or wastewater system are specific to each town and city, and it’s their decision. In some cases, the municipality cannot afford to make the investments necessary to continue to provide reliable service and meet environmental and health regulations. Regardless of a municipality’s reasons to partner with Aqua, we provide solutions that protect public health and the environment and strengthen the water and wastewater infrastructure in the communities we serve. And local governments can use the proceeds from the sale to pursue other important initiatives in their communities, from fire protection to senior services to schools. That’s a partnership that can help ensure a community continues to thrive for generations to come.
In 2019, Aqua purchased the wastewater system that serves Cheltenham Township for more than $50 million. The township had struggled to operate the system and maintain environmental compliance for years, which resulted in a consent order and corrective action plan from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that limited permits for new sewer connections. Selling its system to Aqua enabled Cheltenham to avoid an estimated $80 million in capital costs, while Aqua corrects the system’s deficiencies and manages its operations. Aqua engineers are working on an approach to satisfy the requirements of the DEP at a lower cost, and Aqua adopted the township’s existing wastewater rates.
Aqua acquired Limerick Township’s wastewater system for $75 million in 2018, enabling the township to ensure customer rate protection for years to come, guarantee the hiring of all of its wastewater employees by Aqua, ensure the maximum value for its assets to avoid a tax increase, and complete township infrastructure projects, including a new township building and paid fire protection service.
Both Cheltenham and Limerick benefited from a recent Pennsylvania law that enables regulated water companies like Aqua to pay a fair market value for the purchase of water and wastewater systems instead of the depreciated cost.
Strong, dependable infrastructure is essential to daily life and successful, thriving communities. Aqua’s decades-long relationship with Media in Delaware County has helped transform the more than 170-year-old borough into a bustling hub for retail and business. Aqua owns and operates Media’s water and wastewater systems. Just last year, Aqua completed the first of a three-phase project to upgrade our wastewater treatment plant in Upper Providence Township, which serves Media. The $31 million project will improve the reliability and overall efficiency of the plant to handle incoming wastewater flows from the community, which in turn will better protect the environment.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the residents in all these municipalities, and we’re proud to carry out our mission to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource.
Marc Lucca is president of Aqua Pennsylvania. Aqua serves approximately 1.4 million people in 32 counties throughout Pennsylvania.