Essential Utilities Breaks Ground on New Water Quality Laboratory to Serve Aqua Customers
The ceremonial groundbreaking represents the start of construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art laboratory that will sit at the site of the company’s
The new two-story building, at 14,700 square feet, will more than double the size of the current 6,400 square foot laboratory that has served the company for more than 60 years. The primary laboratory will be on the first floor with an additional pilot testing lab on second floor, which provides more space to enable Aqua to adapt to the dynamic regulatory environment that will require additional sampling and equipment.
Aqua’s laboratory is certified by the
Lucca said that water and wastewater testing capability and expertise is necessary for drinking water and wastewater operations. “We conduct routine and special testing to ensure the water we deliver is safe and that the wastewater we treat and return to our rivers, lakes and streams is cleaner than it is when we remove it to treat it for drinking water.
Crockett said the investment in the new laboratory is required to maintain pace with the advancement of science. As an example, he pointed to the fact that the number of regulated contaminants for drinking water jumped from 23 in the 1970s to 90 by 2000. “In the same period, we’ve gone from measuring in parts per million to parts per trillion, a million-fold increase in detection levels,” said Crockett. In addition, as Aqua continues to add more and more customers and systems through acquisition, the ability for the laboratory capacity needs to keep pace.
Crockett added that on
Beginning in 2020, Essential will make the necessary capital investment in the range of tens of millions of dollars over several years to install mitigation technology at water treatment facilities where source water exceeds 13 parts per trillion (ppt) for any of the three PFAS chemicals. PFAS are a concern in communities across the country where water is believed to have been contaminated by nearby military bases or other causes. Setting a company-wide standard of 13 ppt will enable Essential to address the contaminant uniformly across its eight-state footprint.
Setting a company-wide standard of 13 ppt will enable Essential to address the contaminant uniformly across its footprint, which includes nearly 1,500 water systems in eight states. Currently, the EPA’s PFAS non-enforceable health advisory level is 70 ppt. Although the
Aqua’s new lab is expected to be completed and in operation by the spring of 2021.
Following the closing of its Peoples acquisition on