40th Anniversary of the Point Pleasant Pump Station Project
It’s been 40 years since the start of construction of the Point Pleasant Pump Station that helps supply drinking water to more than 200,000 people in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, our region was faced with water shortages due to drought and contaminated ground water, forcing NPWA to look to alternative sources of water.
In the 70’s and 80’s, several Agreements were signed between Bucks and Montgomery Counties and later one between North Penn and North Wales Water Authorities and Montgomery County that would take the Authorities closer to a surface water supply. North Penn and North Wales Water Authorities believed 40 years ago that the project needed to be complete to ensure an adequate supply of clean drinking water for the region in future years. That supply, combined with the continued use of ground water, would eliminate the need for Authority-generated water restrictions, which were a regular occurrence.
In May of 1983, construction of the Point Pleasant Pump Station was underway and the design of the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant was nearly complete when opposition to the project increased. In all, it would take over a decade filled with litigation, Agreements, and Court Orders, before the Authority would be able to begin utilizing a surface water supply that would provide a sufficient amount of water to meet the growing customer needs.
(Photo: Point Pleasant Pump Station, which pumps water from the Delaware River)
The groundwater system at that time had significant contamination problems and there just was not enough water being pumped out of the ground to meet the demand, especially during the hot, dry summer months. We know that the Point Pleasant Pump Station turned out to be a vitally important project for the well-being of the residents and business in the bi-county region, while at the same time the predictions about damage to the environment never occurred. Without a reliable supply of high quality water, everything would shut down. The importance of the pump cannot be overemphasized, and we are grateful to our predecessors at North Penn and North Wales Water Authorities who fought hard to get it built, despite the opposition.
Many of the fears that the protestors were marching about never truly materialized. For instance, the pump station has had absolutely zero negative impact on the Delaware River, in terms of both water quality and quantity of flow. In fact, the condition of the Delaware River and the North Branch Neshaminy Creek and the Delaware Canal are all better than they have ever been.
Another misconception: water infrastructure does not promote housing development. It follows it. Development of a region is driven by many other factors, such as quality of life, employment opportunities, good schools, parks, recreation, low crime, access to transportation, etc. When people decide to move into a region because of these and other factors, water and sewer infrastructure will follow to meet the need. Infrastructure is built to meet the growing demand that is already there, not the other way around.
Finally, opposition regarding flow to Limerick Power Plant was due to an anti-nuclear movement following the Three Mile Island accident a few years prior. However, the Limerick Power Plant has been providing a clean, low-cost, reliable energy supply with an excellent safety record for the past 40 years. Today, thousands of people live in the vicinity of Limerick, with no need for worry about their health and safety. Our region is very fortunate to have this energy source.
There were politicians in favor and politicians opposed to the project. The project prevailed when it was proven by water supply experts that the homes, businesses, and industries in the Bucks and Montgomery County region desperately needed an abundant, reliable, high quality water supply in order to survive. The Pump provided that.
Because of the pump, Forest Park Water continuously pumps out safe, high quality and affordable drinking water. With continued seasonal drought conditions and stricter water quality standards proposed by the EPA, we are extremely fortunate to be shielded from the many problems we’d be facing with a groundwater only supply.
— Anthony J. Bellitto Jr., P.E., Executive Director of North Penn Water Authority