As one of the largest publicly regulated water utilities in the United States, Aqua has a great responsibility to protect, preserve and properly treat our world’s most valuable resource. After all, water is fundamental to sustaining life. From its most basic purposes to the important role water plays in our modern world, our water supplies should be handled in the most sustainable and responsible ways to ensure it is available for future generations.
Aqua by the numbers
Aqua drinking water system size by population served
Aqua operates 1,486 water systems, across our eight-state footprint, serving approximately 2.3 million people. For these customers, in 2017, Aqua produced 82.4 billion gallons of drinking water; 59 percent from surface water, 36 percent from groundwater and 5 percent purchased from other systems. A majority of our drinking water systems serve less than 500 people.
Federal and state regulations
As a publicly regulated utility, Aqua follows all federal and state water compliance guidelines, including those from the EPA. Aqua works hard to ensure that all 1,486 water systems we own and operate are in compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, providing safe and reliable drinking water for all customers.
No matter where Aqua operates, we understand the responsibility and opportunity for us to make a difference for public health and the environment. Across the organization, we work closely with our regulators to provide safe and reliable water to our customers.
At Aqua, we are committed to providing safe and reliable water service. We understand that the quality of life of our customers is directly correlated to the water we provide. The water Aqua treats and delivers is made safe for customers, communities and the environment.
Before water enters any customer home, Aqua treats unwanted compounds dictated by our environmental regulators. We understand that water is a precious resource and that our filtration processes need to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Aqua relies on two sources of water to meet the consumption demands of our customers: groundwater and surface water. These two sources require different types of treatment.
Groundwater is any water source that is found deep underground. Groundwater is filtered during the natural infiltration process into the ground, which can take years. Because of this process, treating groundwater generally requires minimal treatment before entering the distribution system, reducing the need for additional chemicals. Because groundwater is also likely to be used near the source, Aqua can keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.
Surface water treatment
Surface water is any water source that is above ground, such as a reservoir. Surface water treatment is a little more difficult than groundwater. Aqua protects surface water sources as much as possible, because the fewer contaminants in the water when it reaches our treatment plants, the less chemicals and energy that are required to treat it.
Water usage and reducing lost water
One of Aqua’s primary responsibilities is to manage water resources carefully. One way we do this is by identifying ways to reduce water loss. Some of the ways we reduce water loss include:
- Replacing aging pipes and water mains before they leak or break;
- Updating water meters to more accurately measure water consumption in real time and identify possible leaks in customer homes; and
- Reusing water in various, essential ways at our water and wastewater treatment plants.
Our significant investment in water infrastructure has proven to be a very successful way to reduce water main breaks and water loss. For example, in 2000, Aqua experienced nearly 25 main breaks per 100 miles of pipe we own in southeastern Pennsylvania, which was within the American Water Works Association’s national acceptable main breakage range. However, over the next 15 years, we invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure in the same region. As a result, in 2016, we experienced fewer than 10 main breaks per 100 miles of pipe in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This not only reduced water loss, but reduced the volume and cost of emergency repairs, reduced service interruptions and improved water service for customers.
Keeping to this commitment, Aqua plans on replacing over 165 miles of water pipes in 2018 to continue to address water loss, as well as improve reliability and service for customers. (To put that into perspective, that’s longer than the distance of 140 miles between Philadelphia and Washington D.C.!)
Aqua southeastern Pennsylvania main break averages
Water treatment technology
Aqua is an industry leader in renovating older, less-efficient water facilities with newer technology to aide in water treatment. Water treatment of solid waste (dirt and other materials) is a mechanical process. Filters help remove unwanted particles from the surface water and next Aqua adds compounds to the water, which help smaller dirt particles stick together, become heavier and settle to the bottom of the water.
Some of the material removed this mechanical filtration of surface water is…water! Aqua uses a technology called belt filters to press the water out and reduce the volume of disposal. We also look for ways to reuse this material in the environment instead of sending it to landfills. In some cases, it can be reused for agriculture practices on farmlands to help farmers avoid adding chemicals to their land.
Typical water usage
Aqua tracks the water consumption trends of our customers in order to better manage water resources and to help ensure sustainable sources of water are available for future generations. One of the most impactful findings has been a steady decline in water consumption by our customers over the past several decades. In 1971, we observed a peak consumption of 7,200 gallons per customer, per month in Pennsylvania. Today, that number has decreased by more than 45 percent to 3,900 gallons per customer, per month.
This decline in our customers’ water consumption is directly related to improved water efficiency through advanced technology in appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, toilets, faucets and showers. In fact, the American Water Works Association released a study detailing a 22 percent reduction in home water consumption between 1999 and 2016 across the United States.
Average daily indoor per houshold water use
“Aqua Illinois has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to the water system that serves the community of Aroma Park. A few years ago, they refinished both of the water towers in the Village to ensure that the drinking water that is filtered and softened at their treatment plant arrives at the homes and businesses of customers in the Village is safe and reliable.
Since then, Aqua has continued to improve water quality by replacing a dead-end water main in a section of town that had historically experienced bouts with discolored water, due to the condition of the aging pipe and the fact that it was not encouraged flow. Aqua's work to replace this water main helps ensure that Aroma Park residents will receive the same safe drinking water that leaves Aqua's treatment plant in Kankakee. I appreciate the investment Aqua makes in my community and the benefits that our residents receive from it.”
Mayor Duane Dykstra, Village of Aroma Park
- Replaced more than 2,200 feet of undersized and deteriorated water main with brand new pipe
- Installed nine new water main valves
- Installed six new fire hydrants
- Improved water quality for customers, strengthened reliability and upgraded fire protection
- Total investment of more than $236,000