Water System UpGRADES
It’s no secret that much of the water infrastructure across the country is aging and in need of repair or replacement. Our engineering and operations teams work closely with our communities to identify problem areas and put plans into action to upgrade our systems and infrastructure.
These projects benefit our customers through enhanced service reliability, water quality and fire protection. Improving system resiliency is also a major focus to help protect plants, underground systems, and other crucial infrastructure from extreme weather events, natural hazards and malevolent threats.
2017 System Improvements
We’re investing $62 million in capital upgrades to our water and wastewater infrastructure and system operations in 2017. In our most aggressive annual infrastructure replacement plan in decades, we’ll be replacing close to 1,000 feet of water main each working day. With the funds generated by a Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC) recently approved by the Public Service Commission, we will make $29 million in system-wide upgrades in 2017. The improvements include $18 million in water main replacement projects, $7 million to construct two new 4-million-gallon water storage tanks to improve service reliability, and $4 million to replace service lines and hydrants.
2016 System Improvements
- Pipes: We invested $12 million to replace 123,109 feet (more than 23 miles) of aging pipe primarily installed between the early 1900s and the 1940s with new pipe. Pipeline improvement projects help improve water quality, pressure, fire protection and service reliability.
- Treatment and Water Quality: Our treatment plants received upgrades to SCADA systems, filter controls, online instrumentation and chemical feed systems. We continued multi-year projects to fully automate our Weston and New River water treatment plants and installed an air stripper – the largest one in the American Water system - at our Spring Valley tank in Huntington to reduce the potential for harmful disinfection byproducts.
- Pump Stations: We replaced, rebuilt and updated numerous booster stations to improve service reliability and safety. We also replaced chlorine analyzers with new reagent-less units to reduce operating expenses and replaced gaseous chorine with a calcium hypochlorite system at two booster stations to reduce the risk of an environmental release.
- Fire Hydrants: Reliable fire protection is incredibly important to the safety of the communities we serve, and we replaced 68 fire hydrants to continue this public service.
- Storage Tanks: We constructed a new 1.1 million gallon tank at Drawdy Mountain to improve service reliability to our Boone County customers and constructed a new 1 million gallon tank at Mount Olive to reinforce the system in the upper Kanawha Valley area. We also invested $1.5 million to rehabilitate and paint five water storage tanks in Bluefield, Clendenin, Huntington, Pratt and Sharples to extend the life of the tanks and bring them up to current industry standards.
- Source Water: We installed GC-FID laboratory equipment at our Kanawha Valley treatment plant to analyze source water for fuels and installed a new online sensor at our Huntington treatment plant for the early detection of algae. We also continued to invest in further development of the WaterSuite platform for managing source water monitoring data and information about potential sources of contamination in the areas upstream of our intakes.
About the Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC)
A DSIC is a way for a utility to secure funding in a timely manner, which allows us to replace aging infrastructure at a faster pace while improving service necessary to carry out our important public service. In 2017, our customers will pay a 1.09 percent surcharge on their monthly bills to help fund water system improvements. This amount translates to approximately 52 cents for the average residential customer’s monthly water bill.
Why capital investments are so important
According to the 2017 Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers, West Virginia has $1.16 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs and $3.26 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. We are jeopardizing our quality of life today and for future generations if we fail to properly maintain this vital infrastructure. That’s why West Virginia American Water, with an approximately 4,100-mile network of water and sewer main across the state, proactively replaces aging pipe and upgrades our facilities to continue to deliver reliable service, high-quality water and fire protection.
American Water's investments
We invest more than $1 billion annually into our systems to ensure continued reliability for our customers, who count on us every day. In most of our service areas, high-quality water service still costs about or less than a penny per gallon. Across the country, American Water manages approximately:
- 81 surface water treatment plants
- 89 dams and approximately 48,000 miles of mains and collection pipes
- 500 groundwater treatment plants
- 1,000 groundwater wells
- 100 wastewater treatment facilities
- 1,200 treated water storage facilities
- 1,300 pumping stations