Teamwork Tackles Regulatory Hurdles

Washington Park Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

The Washington Park Wastewater Treatment Facility was constructed in phases by a developer as part of the community’s construction dating back to the 1970s and early 1990s. The system serves approximately 150 homes and was originally permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a 70,000 gallon-per-day (gpd) stream discharge; however, only 35,000 gpd of treatment capacity was ever installed by the developer.

The wastewater treatment plant had a history of environmental violations and its general state of disrepair had made it functionally inoperable. It was categorized as “troubled” by several state agencies. These agencies, including the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the DEP, worked cooperatively to address the needs of the system and facilitate the acquisition of the system by Aqua Pennsylvania (Aqua) in April 2009. State Senator Lisa Baker and Representative Sandy Major helped Aqua secure grant and PENNVEST loan funding for these needed environmental projects.

Aqua initiated design and permitting for the upgrade. Construction began in earnest in the fall of 2010 and was expected to be completed in the fall of 2011.

With the community practically built-out, it was determined that only 50,000 gpd of treatment capacity was needed. Two new 25,000 gpd treatment trains were added along with ultraviolet disinfection (UV) of the treated effluent. The work also included new headworks and forward flow control facilities; a new aeration blower and disinfection building; the upgrade of electrical equipment and an old existing blower building; rehabilitation and conversion of old treatment tankage to flow equalization and waste sludge-holding; a SCADA system for remote monitoring of system performance, and general site improvements.

On September 23, 2011, Aqua Pennsylvania officials were joined by state elected officials and the regional director of the DEP to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the $1.7 million Washington Park wastewater treatment plant construction. Both Senator Baker and Representative Major recounted the numerous calls they received from constituents prior to Aqua’s takeover of the system and praised Aqua for answering the call, acquiring the system and meeting the challenge of providing customers with the wastewater service they deserved. PENNVEST Deputy Director Brian Johnson cited the project as a demonstration of the positive outcome that can result when government and the private sector work together cooperatively.