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American Water Raises Wastewater Compliance, Cuts Emissions Intensity

American Water raised its wastewater compliance rate in 2010 and held its drinking water compliance rate steady at 99.9 percent, according to the company’s first full corporate responsibility report.

The largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility in the U.S. said it raised its compliance rate for wastewater from 99.5 to 99.6 percent last year.

The company said that EPA statistics show its performance to be far better than the industry average over the last several years. In 2009, American Water was 23 times better than the industry average for compliance with drinking water quality standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels) and 86 times better for compliance with drinking water monitoring and reporting requirements, the company says.

Over 75 percent of the facilities it owns and operates meet their discharge requirements every day throughout the year, American Water says.

According to the report, in 2010, there were no legal proceedings or incidents of violation related to the impact of the company’s water and wastewater services on customer safety and health.

American Water is part of the Partnership for Water, a cooperative effort between the EPA and more than 200 water utilities throughout the U.S., to enhance water quality in ways that may go beyond current federal standards. Participation requires regular evaluation of all treatment processes and water quality, and American Water says this evaluation process provides additional assurance and safety to its customers.

To date, 67 of American Water’s surface water treatment plants have received Phase III certification under the partnership, making up about one-third of all plants in the country to receive this level of certification. In addition, 62 American Water plants have received the Five-Year Phase III award, while 40 have been awarded the Ten-Year Phase III award.

In the report, the company also said that its greenhouse gas emissions intensity dropped by 0.3 percent in 2010. But that followed a 1.5 percent rise from 2008 to 2009, leaving intensity last year still above 2007 levels.

American Water has a goal to lower its GHG emissions, per volume of water produced, by 16 percent from 2007 levels by the year 2017. The company says its main method of reaching this goal will be to improve the energy efficiency of the water pumping process, which accounts for about 90 percent of the company’s GHG emissions. Water conservation also represents an important opportunity to reach substantial energy savings, the report said.

The company said it has established a successful track record of designing, implementing and operating water reuse systems across the U.S., both at its own plants and in projects for customers. Notable projects include:

  • American Water’s Anthem, Ariz. facility, which serves 10,000 customers, includes a 100 percent water reuse technology. The re-used water irrigates parks and recharges aquifers
  • The Fillmore Water Recycling Plant in California, a zero-discharge wastewater treatment plant, produces 1 million gallons of water that meets the standards for unrestricted reuse irrigation purposes
  • Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots, has a double piping system that treats wastewater from the stadium, saving 250,000 gallons of water at every major event
  • The Copper Hill School in Raritan Township, NJ, recycles wastewater from school toilets and showers, saving the school about 12,000 gallons of wastewater each day.
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