Camden-based New Jersey American Water recently celebrated its $2.5 million investment in the Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant. Treatment process upgrades include the installation of Advanced Oxidation Processes to properly treat 1,4-dioxane, a soon-to-be-regulated compound found in source water.
In February 2020, routine New Jersey American Water testing in the Delaware River led to the discovery of 1,4-dioxane, an unregulated synthetic chemical.
The discovery prompted New Jersey American Water, in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Delaware River Basin Commission and other agencies, to conduct additional sampling to determine potential compound sources and inform an appropriate response. New Jersey American Water also initiated a treatment design plan for the Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant at that time.
“The Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant is a source of water for thousands of people living in New Jersey, and the upgrades to our treatment processes help ensure we continue to provide safe, clean water service,” Mark McDonough, president, New Jersey American Water, stated. “As the state’s largest water provider and a backup supplier for many additional systems when needs arise, it is imperative that New Jersey American Water invests in the appropriate technology and treatment when we anticipate guidelines are being developed. We are proud to continue proactively investing in the safety and quality of our water service for residents across the state.”
While 1,4-dioxane is unlikely to pose an acute health risk in the detected amount, it was not previously found in the river. Federal and New Jersey drinking water standards do not yet include a drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a monitoring reference level, it does not require regulatory action if the reference level is exceeded. The NJDEP began the process of setting a state regulation for 1,4-dioxane in drinking water in 2021 at approximately 0.33 parts per billion, but has not yet formalized this standard.
1,4-dioxane enters the environment in contaminated soils and wastewater discharges that may mix into surface water and enter drinking water utilities that utilize surface water and/or groundwater. In addition to facility treatment upgrades, water quality experts at the Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant continue to consistently sample the facility’s surface water supply for detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane.
The Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant produces more than 40 million gallons of water per day for hundreds of thousands of residents in the company’s Burlington, Camden and Gloucester County service areas.