Pennsylvania American Water’s new water treatment plant located in New Beaver Borough is just within the Lawrence County borders, something officials are thankful for as the facility is now fully operational.
“You can almost take a stone and throw it and the stone would possibly land in Beaver County,” Dan Vogler, chairman of the Lawrence County commissioners, said during a gathering Friday morning for county and municipal officials at the site of the treatment plant. “That’s how close we are to the county line. I want to thank you for locating this plant in Lawrence County. It’s much appreciated.”
The $50-million New Beaver facility replaces the 110-year-old Ellwood Water Treatment Plant, which had capacity and reliability limitations. The new plant has increased production capacity, improved reliability and provides enhanced safety for the company’s employees while serving approximately 18,000 people in southern Lawrence and Butler counties and northeastern Beaver County. Another $30 million was spent by the company making other infrastructure upgrades, making the total investment more than $80 million.
“The construction here in New Beaver ties in with a great deal of construction that’s going on throughout Lawrence County right now,” Vogler said. “I cannot remember a time when we had had in Lawrence County this much construction. It’s refreshing and we really want to let you know how much we appreciate the investment you’ve made.”
The new plant increases available water capacity from 5.2 million to 8 million gallons per day and was designed to be expanded to up to 16 million gallons per day to accommodate future growth.
The new plant has 12 full-time workers, a number which includes management, managing water levels and output 24 hours a day. The plant sits about 140 feet above the Beaver River and connects to the it by pipes and gravity. Pumps then push the river water into the plant where it is filtered through a series of stations.
Through the process, sediment and bacteria are filtered out. Leftover muddy sediment — or sludge — is then put through a process to rid it from any remaining water and then it is shipped offsite. The sludge can be shipped to a landfill or to farms.
“Communities that have solid infrastructure thrive,” Pennsylvania American Water President Mike Doran said at the gathering. “Communities that don’t, don’t. When you hear the stories from Michigan and New Jersey, where there have been struggles from a water-quality standpoint, those communities are struggling. Until you get that under control and in a positive direction, you’re not going to experience growth or the economic advantages and values that you can if you have strong infrastructure. That’s an important piece.”
Alex McCoy, director of the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce, also spoke of the facility’s economic impact. The facility’s construction was aided by county businesses like Wampum Hardware, Blank Concrete and Supply of Ellwood City, Amerikohl, Byers Trucking, Castle Builders Supply and The Copy Shop of New Castle. Labor was also provided by Construction and General Laborers Union Local 964.
“When we grow as a community, it doesn’t benefit just one business,” McCoy said. “It benefits us all and that’s an important message to keep in mind.”
The public is invited to an open house Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for tours of the plant, located at 352 Industrial Drive, educational demonstrations, children’s activities, face painting and refreshments. Guests should wear sturdy, closed-toed footwear and be comfortable standing, walking and occasionally climbing stairs for approximately 30 minutes. Attendees must provide a valid photo identification to enter the treatment plant property. Parking will be available.