Removing Iron and Revamping Water Systems in New Jersey

 

 

 

If you live in or near Berkeley and Bayville, New Jersey, this one’s for you: Aqua New Jersey recently completed capital improvement projects on three all-new water treatment facilities to add iron removal processes that ensure safe and reliable water for the community.

To learn more about the nitty-gritty details of these infrastructure upgrades—and why they’re so important—we spoke with Aqua New Jersey Project Manager Michael Convery

What exactly did the project involve?

In a nutshell, the central purpose of the project was the addition of iron removal treatment processes at our existing Lifetime Well 4 and Pinewald Wells 3 & 5 sites. It also involved the creation of a brand-new well at the Sherman Well 6 site, also with—you guessed it—iron removal treatment. 

 

The projects at all three sites involved the construction of new treatment buildings and the replacement of all existing well pumps, variable frequency drives (VFDs), chemical pumps, and other treatment-related equipment. Plus, all three sites introduced backwash tanks, allowing the ability to recycle 85% of backwash water, and upgraded existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. 

Were all the project sites the same? 

Not quite—each site required its own unique dose of TLC. It was out with the old and in with the new at the Lifetime site, where crews retrofitted the old well treatment building with new equipment and constructed an additional treatment building for the iron removal filters with concrete masonry units (CMUs) and brick materials. 

Over at the Sherman site, crews drilled a new well and built a treatment building complete with all-new pumping and treatment equipment. This structure was constructed with CMUs and vinyl siding materials to blend in with the surrounding environment.

Finally, crews at the Pinewald site constructed a new iron removal treatment building made with CMUs and brick material for wells 3 & 5 following the demolition of the old treatment building. As an added bonus, all three sites now have GreensandPlus pressure filters for iron removal. (Trust us—in water provider language, that’s a huge plus!) 

What’s the big deal about removing iron from water?

At these plants, it’s essential to ensure the filters operate properly and backwash on the right parameters to achieve proper iron removal (and thus to achieve proper water quality). Luckily, there are controls in place at each location to make sure everything operates smoothly. 

According to Convery, the iron removal process involves using pressure filtration with manganese dioxide coated sand, which is known as GreensandPlus. “The system includes filter face piping with automatic valves and controls,” he adds. “The process involves air scouring capabilities to allow for efficient cleaning of filter media during backwashing.”

What happens next? 

Now that the intensive project is complete and Aqua New Jersey customers are benefiting from the upgraded facilities, Convery can look back fondly on the whole process. 

“The local operations group—especially Ron Suto, Mike Ricciardella, and Forrest Wolf—worked hard to keepthe system fully functional throughout the entire project,” he says. “It was a true team effort. Without all ofthe hard work of the New Jersey team and local operations, this project would not have been possible.”

Teams like these New Jersey employees are perfect examples of our commitment to the pursuit of excellence here at Aqua. Stay on the lookout for our next Aquastructure blog, where we’ll chronicle another chapter in our ongoing infrastructure improvement story!

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Meet the Ripples of Aqua Pennsylvania

At Aqua, we have three core values that guide us in everything that we do: integrity, respect, and the pursuit of excellence. From providing our customers with safe and reliable water to giving back to the communities we serve, we are proud to reinforce these ideals in the past, present, and future stages of our company.

In 2017, we launched the Ripple Effect, which is a cross-company campaign dedicated to illuminating the various ways that our employees make positive impacts on both their communities and each other. And because no volunteer effort is complete without its volunteers, we decided to put the spotlight on the people within the Ripple Effect—or the “ripples” themselves, if you will.

Let’s meet Lara, Kate, and Chad, three Aqua Pennsylvania employees whose participation in our Ripple Effect program has ranged from feeding the hungry to helping children in need.

United in fighting hunger

Earlier this month, we kicked off “Making A Difference, One Drop at A Time,” our third national fundraising campaign for United Way, after more than 40 years of participating in local campaigns throughout the company. In 2018, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey presented Aqua with the “Game Changer Award” for efforts accomplished during our first national campaign.

We also participated in United Way’s United2Feed event in June, where along with volunteers from a variety of other companies, our total contribution of time and energy yielded 8,000 boxes of food (155,000 meals) sent to shelters and food pantries throughout the region. 

 

“I really appreciated the opportunity to volunteer at the United2Feed event,” said Administrative Assistant Lara Mraz, who participated in the event. “In the Greater Philadelphia region, one in five people faces hunger every day. I really enjoyed being a part of the process to give people the help we all sometimes need.”

This campaign wasn’t our first rodeo with our friends at United Way, either. We’ve participated in numerous United2Feed events, including 2017’s rendition, where 23 Aqua employees from various departments, along with volunteers from a variety of additional companies, helped to pack 12,000 boxes of food, resulting in 120,000 meals for 32,000 individuals.

United in helping kids succeed

Being able to impact the lives of members of our communities is a gift that we don’t take for granted. That’s why we feel honored to support Cradles to Crayons in their mission to make a positive mark in the lives of the 300,00 children who live in poverty in the Greater Philadelphia area.

This past June, 24 Aqua Pennsylvania employees stepped away from their usual routines to volunteer with the organization, including Executive Assistant Kate Boucher. As a mother herself, she found it extra meaningful to work for a cause dedicated to helping children in need.

 

 

“When planning our finance conference this year, I thought that it would be a good idea to include a volunteer day with Cradles to Crayons,” she said. “The day was a huge success! People from our finance teams across the country participated and really enjoyed spending a day helping the kids in this area.”

Another one of those volunteers was Chad Nardelli, manager, property accounting. “It was a very rewarding experience, and I’m happy I had the chance to do it,” he added. “Because of the few hours I had at Cradles to Crayons, I’m looking forward to future opportunities to volunteer.” 

From writing cards to encourage children on their first day of school to sorting donations of books and clothes, the whole group enjoyed spending time together while making an impact.

In addition to inspiring positive ripples in our communities, these experiences bring together all the individual “ripples” of our Aqua team to build trust and learn from one another. Though the impact of a few hours of volunteering seems small, our team is here to tell you that one small ripple is just the beginning of a much larger wave.

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State Spotlight: Your Guide to Aquatic Summer Fun in New Jersey

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to the summer season, and for many of us in the northeastern region of the country, this means plenty of trips to the sandy shores of New Jersey are on the horizon.

The state has a rich history of tourism connected to vacationing at New Jersey shorelines. While many tourists are expected to visit the famous beaches each summer, plenty of Garden State residents and visitors will also be looking for fun and spontaneous ways to beat the heat.

Aqua is proud to serve eleven counties in New Jersey that offer plenty water-themed activities for tourists and residents alike. Here’s a brief look at the summer fun our communities have to offer.

Beaches

What would a summer in New Jersey be without trips to the beach? Residents and friends of Aqua in Egg Harbor Township certainly know a thing or two about beaches with their own proximity to sunny shorelines and Atlantic City.

Plus, Berkeley Township residents are just a hop, skip and jump away from Seaside Heights, where the boardwalk and beaches boast festivals, sports and events all throughout the season. Both areas—among plenty of other beaches along the state’s coast—are prime destinations for summer getaways.

Waterparks

One alternative to a dip in the ocean is to visit a waterpark. These aquatic amusement parks can make waves for your favorite beach sports and offer exciting water-based activities for people of all ages.

Families in Clementon will celebrate 110 years of summer fun at Clementon Park & Splash World this year. Plus, our friends in Vernon Township might consider a visit to take in the views and adventure opportunities of Mountain Creek.

(Psst: To keep your family safe while swimming this summer, check out our tips on water safety.)

Local Lakes

Visiting nearby lakes, like those in and around Hardyston Township, is another way to join in on the aquatic fun.

If swimming isn’t your favorite, boating or fishing can be equally as refreshing alternatives. We even found members of the Laurel Springs community sharing their best catches on Laurel Lake’s Facebook page.

Other Water-based Activities

You don’t necessarily need large bodies of water to find fun. In Phillipsburg, families can enjoy a ride on a steam engine train—steam means water—and learn more about the history of railway travel in the state.

Lebanon Township will host its third annual Sprinkler Day this August in partnership with their local fire company. It’s hard to beat a celebration of community and water!

We love to see our neighbors and communities getting ready for another memorable summer. What aquatic activities do you have planned?

 

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Imposter Alert: Protect Yourself and Your Belongings

Aqua recently learned of an incident involving a man identifying himself as a water company employee to gain access into a customer’s home and steal their belongings. Aqua would like to use this unfortunate event as an opportunity to remind our customers about this issue so you’re more aware in the future.

 

Imagine it’s the early morning and you’re home alone. A man outside identifies himself as a water company employee. He says there are leaks in your area, and he’s checking the homes on your street and needs to check your meter and the inside pipes. Once inside, he asks you to run water in the util­ity sink as he checks the upstairs bathroom sink. While upstairs, he steals jewelry and money left on a dresser.

 

In most cases, the only time Aqua would need to be inside your home is to service or exchange a meter or to respond to a problem about which you called us. In the former case, Aqua would contact you by mail or phone to schedule an appointment first.

 

There are a few exceptions when you might receive an unannounced visit from Aqua:

 

  • An employee might come to your door to make you aware of an unscheduled service outage, such as a main break. In this case, the employee would not need to access the inside of your home. An Aqua employee might also make an unannounced visit to investigate a property that has had multiple “zero usage” bills or an account that has not had a meter read for more than 45 days.
  • If a meter reader has trouble getting a remote meter read from outside your home, he might ask to enter you home to read the meter, in which case he would present a photo ID card.

 

 

For your safety and security, we encourage all customers to be extra cautious. Unfortunately, thieves like these might strike again. You can protect yourself by remembering the following information.

  1. All Aqua employees carry company identifica­tion. In all cases, please confirm the representative’s identification before letting them into your home.
  2. All employees dress in Aqua-branded attire similar to the uniform shown above.
  3. Company vehicles (mostly white Chevrolets) with the Aqua logo prominently displayed are always used.

If you encounter someone who is pretending to be an Aqua employee, please call your local police department and report them.

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Why Water Mains Break

One of the biggest concerns for water utilities during extremely hot or cold weather is water main breaks. Water mains are expected to last a long time – as long as 100 years in many cases. But with many miles of pipe buried underground, it’s reasonable to expect a particular section of pipe will fail or break at some point. The challenge for water utilities is to work proactively to minimize the number of breaks and to respond effectively when a main does break.

While the oldest water mains were made of wood, by the late 1800s, a variety of iron pipe was being used to construct water distribution systems. Common iron varieties included cast and galvanized in the early part of the 20th Century, with galvanized used primarily for smaller diameter pipe. Cast iron pipe was used until the late 1950s when stronger, more flexible ductile iron pipe became common. Plastic pipe, including Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) became common in the 1970s. The primary difference between these two plastic pipes is that PVC is stiffer than HDPE, which is more flexible. Even though pipe is expected to last for decades, that doesn’t mean it won’t break at some point. While it is impossible to predict specific pipe breaks, we know that environmental conditions are a major factor in water main breaks.

In the northern and northeast areas of the country where winters are more extreme, cold soils and cold water combine to add stress to pipes, which can—and often do—result in breaks. Iron, like all metals, contracts as temperatures drop. This problem is more common when the source water is surface water (rivers and lakes). These waters are significantly affected by air temperature and can drop to near freezing in the winter. A temperature difference of just 10 degrees in water or air temperatures can cause pipes to contract or expand. Additional stress inside and outside the pipe occurs as temperatures near the freezing point, making the pipe vulnerable to breakage. Water temperature changes more slowly than air temperature changes so the impact of cold water on pipes can cause breakage to take place as many as a couple days after temperatures freeze. Water systems with groundwater sources (wells) have more stable water temperatures because the water is not affected by air temperatures, and therefore, not as significantly impacted. 

Just as pipes are adversely affected by cold weather conditions, they are also affected by severe heat. In some groundwater systems in the southern and southwestern states, the soils are like sponges and hold lots of water. However, during extended periods of hot temperature when high demands for water increases water withdrawal from the aquifers, the soil becomes very dry. In these conditions, the soil contracts and subsides, pulling away from the pipe and diminishing support for the water main. The absence of support for the main can cause it to break. This particular problem led the City of Houston, Texas to begin to convert its groundwater supply to surface water.

Although older mains are generally more susceptible to breaks, breaks can occur on newer mains. This is most likely the result of improper installation or a manufacturing issue with that particular section of pipe. By examining trends in water main breaks over time, a utility is better able to identify categories of pipe that are more prone to breaks, and thus proactively target that pipe for replacement. Aqua employs such tactics in determining which mains to replace. By the end of 2013, Aqua expects to have spent $170 million of its $325 million capital improvement program on water main replacement and associated work.

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