- Staff photo by Don Himsel Staff in the laboratory test Pennichuck's water regularly.
- Staff file photo by Don Himsel
The Pennichuck Water Works facility in Nashua has undergone an extensive construction and rehabilitation process. Water in this section of the process has had larger particulate matter removed and is headed for further treatment.
- Staff photo by Don Himsel
The light blue motors operate pumps and move what's referred to as intermediate water through Pennichuck's system. The dark blue motors operate pumps that move water out of the building into the delivery system.
- Staff photo by Don Himsel A generator is available to power the facility if necessary. If power is lost it will begin running in as little as 30 seconds.
- Staff photo by Don Himsel
Chemicals are added in the process to adjust the ph of the water before delivering it through the system.
- Staff photo by Don Himsel John Boisvert, chief engineer for Pennichuck Water Works, stands among giant pipes that send treated water from the Nashua facility to its distribution system.
- Staff photo by Don Himsel Donald Ware, Pennichuck Water Works
- Staff photo by Don Himsel Chris Countie, Pennichuck Water Works
- Courtesy photo Pipe delivery, 1900, Pennichuck Water Works, Nashua.
As Pennichuck unveils new plant, mayor’s not in sight
NASHUA — Pennichuck began supplying the city with drinking water in 1858.
A few weeks ago, finishing touches were put on a water treatment upgrade that will allow Pennichuck Water Works to deliver purer water to Nashua and surrounding towns.
“Significant capital improvements often require significant capital investments,” said Duane Montopoli, president and chief executive officer of the water utility’s parent company, Pennichuck Corp., during a gathering to celebrate the finished $38.5 million upgrade.
Nearly 50 people attended, mainly state representatives and other state officials, as well as Pennichuck board members and staff.
Among those who didn’t attend: Mayor Donnalee Lozeau nor any member of the city Board of Aldermen. Nashua is embroiled in a lawsuit over its attempt to acquire the utility through eminent domain. The city and Pennichuck at one point had negotiated to purchase the company, bypassing the court proceedings. The status of the negotiations – if they are continuing – is not public, as aldermen and mayor have agreed to a gag order that prevents the parties involved from discussing anything related to the acquisition attempt.
The improvements amounted to a “major upgrade” and were part of a comprehensive plan to improve processes at the utility, Montopoli said.
Most of the improvements were built within an existing facility off of Concord Street near the Merrimack town line.
A new pumping station and tanks were added behind the building.
Periodic changes have been made to the process to reduce turbidity – a measure of water clarity – to meet changing standards in federal laws.
When the Clean Water Act was adopted in 1974, the chlorinated, unfiltered water from Pennichuck met federal standards, said Don Ware, president of regulated utilities for Pennichuck Corp.
But processes had to be improved over time as federal standards tightened, he said.
The new process improves the procedure for removing dissolved solids in the water.
The main chemical additive remains sodium hypochlorite, the active chemical in common household bleach.
The sodium hypochlorite is added to the water in two parts per million, while bleach is generally a solution of 3 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite.
The new plant was built and brought online without interrupting water service or adversely affecting water quality, said Chris Countie, water supply manager for Pennichuck.
All the fanfare for the new plant has come with a price tag.
In August, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved a 22 percent rate increase for Pennichuck Water Works.
The increase will bring in an extra $2.4 million in annual revenue for the water utility and replaces a temporary 11 percent increase the PUC approved in January.
Pennichuck requested a 25 percent rate increase to help offset the cost of the new treatment plant.
The increase adds about $4 to the typical residential monthly water bill, bringing the average total to $45.36.
Under the temporary 11 percent increase, the average bill climbed from $38.23 to $41.70.
Pennichuck Water Works in the core water system that serves 24,000 customers in Nashua, Amherst, Bedford, Hollis, Merrimack and Milford. The parent company, Pennichuck Corp., owns three other New Hampshire water companies, a real estate development firm, and a water utility management company.
Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.