James Barbato

Chief Engineering Officer, Essential Utilities

James Barbato

James Barbato is the Chief Engineering Officer for Essential (NYSE: WTRG), one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., serving approximately 5 million people across 10 states. Barbato leads a team of engineers in designing the technology and infrastructure improvements across Essential’s water, wastewater and natural gas systems. James is also responsible for the oversight of a $1 billion per year capital improvement program, which includes both repair tax and surcharge components. Barbato spearheads the continuous improvement efforts across several disciplines including GIS, hydraulic modeling and automation. James provides engineering and technical due diligence guidance on all proposed acquisitions and evaluates many engineering aspects of a transaction that affects the companies’ risk profile and/or capital investment requirements.

Professional History

Barbato joined the company in 2007 and has held several engineering roles in Aqua New Jersey, Aqua Virginia and Aqua North Carolina during the earlier years of his career. Barbato managed many engineering activities across the Aqua subsidiaries and has delivered major capital projects to meet the company’s infrastructure requirements.

Barbato later held the position of Director, Corporate Engineering, and VP Corporate Engineering before being named Chief Engineering Officer for Essential. For these roles, Barbato managed the shared services across the Aqua footprint including our database of record, GIS, the hydraulic modeling and water quality group, energy management and automation standards. He has extensive experience with developing capital budgets, implementing capital plans and providing expert testimony for rate cases. 

Prior to joining Aqua, Barbato was a Project Manager for Valero Refining Company completing a broad range of water, wastewater and petrochemical projects ranging from $5 million to $400 million in capital expenditures.


Barbato earned his B.S. in 1999 at Drexel University and a M.B.A. in 2002 from the University of Delaware and remains active in the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) and the American Gas Association (AGA).