Conservation & Stewardship

Wastewater treatment

The proper treatment of wastewater is essential to public health and the environment. At Aqua, we take seriously our responsibility to provide reliable and efficient wastewater treatment.

We have the technical expertise and experience to offer superior wastewater services that meet all environmental and public health standards. At Aqua, we are continuously modernizing wastewater treatment methods, ensuring our systems are respectful of the surrounding environment and adhering to current – and possible future – local, state and federal regulations.

Aqua improves the water that is delivered from wastewater treatment plants back into water systems. Wastewater treated by Aqua is free of disease-causing bacteria, and is safe for all living things – people, animals and plants.

Wastewater by the numbers

186 Wastewater systems
113,000 Connections
9.4 billion Gallons treated in 2017

Aqua customers and wastewater discharge

Aqua operates 186 wastewater systems, serving 113,000 connections across our eight-state footprint. In 2017 alone, we treated 9.4 billion gallons of wastewater, which was just 56 percent of the permitted treatment capacity for our wastewater facilities, meaning Aqua has the capabilities necessary to treat a lot more wastewater.

Between showering, cooking, laundry and dishes, the average Aqua customer connection produced 230 gallons of wastewater per day in 2017. Most of that wastewater ultimately ends up back in local rivers or streams, so it is vital that Aqua treats all wastewater before it is discharged.

After an intensive and thorough filtering process, including screening, primary clarification and biological treatment, most of the wastewater is returned back into local rivers and streams.

Profile of wastewater system size by permitted capacity (gallons/day)

Wastewater treatment

Aqua’s primary duty is to meet the requirements of all local, state and federal regulations for its wastewater treatment plants. This means that our wastewater systems achieve greater than 90 percent removal of regulated elements during the wastewater treatment process.

In most cases, we are able to achieve this high level of compliance through the use of secondary treatment processes to help ensure the removal of organics and solid materials. However, in some cases – such as in the sensitive Chesapeake Bay area – we use tertiary treatment to remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Across Aqua, we estimate that our wastewater treatment plants remove nearly 8,148 metric tons of suspended solids, or dirt, and another 8,000+ metrics tons of organic material, each year. This is the equivalent of keeping approximately 340 dump trucks of waste material from entering streams and rivers!

Case Study

Wastewater in Presidential Lakes, Virginia

In 2014, Aqua Virginia purchased a wastewater treatment system in King George County, Virginia, serving approximately 290 active sewer connections. Treatment for the system was provided by a single 35,000 gallon per day plant, which had been built around 1996. A Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit allowed for a maximum of 70,000 gallons per day, however a second 35,000 gallon per day unit was never installed. The original plant also occasionally exceeded 95 percent of design with treatment of up to 45,000 gallons per day.

Prior to Aqua’s purchase of the system, the system was under a consent order by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for numerous unresolved environmental compliance issues in September 2012. After purchasing the system, Aqua Virginia subsequently resolved and fully rescinded the consent order by June 2016. In order for Aqua to resolve the consent order and achieve compliance with environmental regulations, we constructed a new and expanded wastewater treatment plant and back-up generator system. The expanded plant was required to meet daily flow demands, as well as stringent Chesapeake Bay Act nutrient removal criteria. The project was completed on time, with a capital investment of approximately $1.9 million.

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