In uncertain times, you can be sure the Merchantville Pennsauken Water Commission (MPWC) is doing everything in its power to continue to supply the highest quality of water along with the highest quality of services under extreme circumstances.
The issue of safe drinking water did not take a back seat to the pandemic. Over the last few years, new regulations have been implemented to replace water mains at an accelerated rate, to remove all lead and galvanized iron services from the distribution system and to treat drinking water to higher standards than ever before.
You may have noticed the MPWC digging up the streets, lining and replacing water mains in the area of Franklin School in Pennsauken. In 2021, 7,600 linear feet of water main were either lined with structural epoxy to bring the pipe back to its original condition or replaced entirely. New valves were also installed. While the main was being addressed, temporary water was set up throughout the neighborhood. We did our best to not impact our customers and get in and out of the area as fast as possible.
The State of New Jersey is requiring all lead and galvanized services to be removed over the next ten years. This new law requires that we determine what the customer’s material is made out of and develop a plan to remove any customer owned galvanized or lead service line. You may have seen our flyers, door hangers or Facebook posts. If you have not already done so, please reach out and let us know if your service line is galvanized iron or copper.
Perhaps the biggest challenge we have faced is the new regulations the State has implemented to reduce the levels of emerging contaminants in drinking water. Of course, this brings new treatment technology into play and we are designing and constructing multiple treatment plants to address levels of contaminants down to the low parts per trillion level. With five treatment plants scattered around our towns, this is quite an undertaking and will take a few years to fully implement. Our Woodbine plant is currently off and under construction. Our National Highway plant is running with additional temporary treatment while we permit the permanent treatment plant. Plans are being developed to install additional treatment to the remaining plants as new regulations are implemented. MPWC continues to comply with all regulations even under construction and with the new limits. You may have seen on the news, not all utilities are doing as well with the new laws.
The good news, this will improve the quality of the drinking water better than it already is. We are constantly looking for outside funding sources to subsidize these capital expenses. With the passage of the new infrastructure bill, funds are being made available to offset some of these additional costs to minimize the burden on you, our customers.
We have increased our water rates by 4.0 % this year to assist us with maintaining the high level of service and quality of water and to undertake these large projects. For the average owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, you can anticipate a slight increase in your quarterly water bill of approximately $2.50 per quarter. Please know that we continue to be committed to providing the highest quality of water at the lowest possible cost. Our operation remains focused on keeping you, and our employees safe, while maximizing the services that we provide.
Richard F. Spafford, PE
Director of Engineering