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Aging Wastewater Infrastructure

Sep 02, 2014

By Joe Pantalone, Vice President of Wastewater

I have been in the water and wastewater industry for more than 25 years and joined ACUA approximately one year ago. 

ACUA owns and operates a 40-million-gallon–per-day wastewater treatment plant that was built in the late 70s. The corresponding collection system consists of over 20 pumping stations and approximately 60 miles of pipeline.

For a regional authority, ACUA can be considered mid-sized. Nevertheless, it is comprised of millions of dollars of pipeline, pumps, motors, controls, repair equipment, vehicles, etc. With all of these assets and a myriad of moving parts, systems need be renewed and replaced as they age. Ironically, projects that I was involved in the initial stages of my career are now approaching the time when significant repairs are warranted.

Many articles have been written heeding the warning concerning the aging water infrastructure that exists throughout the country. In fact, the infrastructure was given a “D+” on the 2013 American Infrastructure Report Card.

The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” applies in this situation; unless residents or businesses are without water or sewer service, our industry is generally taken for granted.

Two Atlantic County events that took place in less than a year’s time illustrate the constant battle the industry faces to address aging infrastructure with a comprehensive approach while maintaining economical rates that customers have grown accustomed to.

Within my first few months on the job, ACUA had to repair a major sewer main that had deteriorated within the Smithville section (Galloway Township) of our service area. The repair spanned a two-week period and came with an unanticipated cost in excess of $250,000.

In March 2014, a leak was discovered in Ventnor City on our 27” major force main that conveys about 8 to 10 million gallons of wastewater per day from Ventnor, Margate, Longport and a portion of Egg Harbor Township. A three-block section of the main had to be replaced at an unanticipated expense in excess of $1 million.  


wellington   Wellington3


Photos from the Wellington Avenue repair in Ventnor

Fortunately, no customer lost service during these experiences, which is credit to our staff and emergency preparedness. However, they illustrate the challenges we face here in Atlantic County and across the U.S.

In the upcoming months I or my staff will use this blog to touch on some of the topics affecting our industry and our Wastewater Treatment Plant in Atlantic City. Please follow us for insight into our plans to tackle aging infrastructure and other issues.