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Water quality enhancement in the works in Lower Makefield

by Joan Hellyer

An estimated $25 million in water quality enhancement projects are under way at two Pennsylvania American Water sites in Lower Makefield. 

The first, which will cost about $24 million, involves work at what the utility company calls its Yardley water treatment plant. The facility is located at 1145 Edgewood Road in Lower Makefield. 

The upgrade is needed to bring the site in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s new Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, company spokeswoman Maggie Sheely said.

The company is installing an ultraviolet light disinfection system to add another highly effective layer of protection against viruses and bacteria that could make their way into surface water sources, the spokeswoman said. The disinfection system will further reduce chlorine-resistant pathogens and microorganisms. 

“We remain focused on producing high quality drinking water and addressing emerging issues with the addition of this state-of-the-art water treatment process,” Chris Abruzzo, who serves as the utility’s director of water quality and environmental compliance, said in a company statement.

Pennsylvania American Water also plans to build two structures on the treatment plant’s property to house new chemical feed and pre-treatment systems, officials said. 

“These upgrades will include activated carbon and liquid ammonia and chlorine feed systems to replace the current gas ammonia and chlorine systems,” the spokeswoman said. The safety improvement will benefit both utility company employees and the community.

The plant’s existing pre-treatment equipment will be replaced with more efficient systems, the spokeswoman said. That will help improve the settling process. The project also includes energy-efficient upgrades to be made to the plant’s HVAC and control room.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 and all systems are expected to be in operation by the end of 2021.

Pennsylvania American Water’s second project underway in Lower Makefield involves replacing an underground pumping station at Quarry and Dolington roads with an above ground structure, officials said. The project, expected to cost a little less than $1 million, will provide a safer work environment for employees and more reliable service for customers. It’s expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

The upgrades are part of the utility’s capital investment plan and are embedded in the rates paid by customers, as set by the state’s Public Utility Commission, Sheely said. 

“Fortunately, Pennsylvania state law allows regulated utilities to spread costs across our entire customer base so that communities like Lower Makefield, (Yardley and Falls) do not bear the entire costs for major capital projects like this Yardley treatment plant upgrade,” she said.

Water service is not expected to be impacted by the work, the spokeswoman said. Additionally, the projects are not expected to have an impact on traffic around either of the work sites.

Pennsylvania American Water included information about the infrastructure upgrades in their customers’ August water bills.

The treatment plant off Edgewood Road provides drinking water to nearly 13,000 homes and businesses in Lower Makefield, as well as small sections of Yardley and Falls, according to the utility. 

Pennsylvania American Water is a subsidiary of American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in the state. It serves about 2.4 million people in Pennsylvania.

Overall, American Water provides market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. Go to amwater.com for more information.

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