In 1958, a group of citizens from several local municipalities formed an Association known as the North Penn Water Resources Association in an effort to improve drinking water supplies in the region. In accordance with the provisions of the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, as amended, the North Penn Water Authority (NPWA) was officially incorporated on August 10, 1964. The seven incorporating municipalities were Lansdale Borough, Souderton Borough, Franconia Township, Hatfield Township, Lower Salford Township, Towamencin Township, and Worcester Township. Each municipality appointed one member to the NPWA Board for a five-year term, and that group comprised the original Authority Board.
In August of 1965, seven years after the North Penn Water Resources Association began working toward forming a regional water supplier, NPWA purchased and began officially operating the Lansdale and Souderton Borough water systems. Shortly thereafter, a 16-inch transmission line to connect the Lansdale and Souderton distribution systems was constructed along with a one million gallon water storage tank and pumping station. Through providing water service to existing residents, new developments and businesses in the NPWA service area, the Authority continued to grow. In 1975, NPWA purchased four small water systems and eight wells serving portions of Skippack Township and a small system in Hilltown Township. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, water shortages were common and the Authority worked to find ways to provide the growing customer base. The Authority expanded the groundwater resources to include 55 wells and the purchase of surface water from another water company. However, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the water available would be insufficient to serve the area, and an additional surface water supply would be needed.
In April of 1986, Skippack Township joined NPWA, followed by New Britain Township and Hatfield Borough in 1987. NPWA began operating the New Britain Township Water System in August of 1987 and the Hatfield Borough System in February of 1988. With the inclusion of Hatfield Borough, NPWA reached its current complement of 10 member municipalities.
In 1987, the North Penn Authority, along with the North Wales Water Authority, began construction of an Interim Treatment Plant at the Forest Park site in Chalfont Borough. As water shortages reached a critical level, the interim plant, designed to produce 3.2 million gallons of water, went on line in February of 1989. Immediately the plant began to ease the Authority’s water problems, allowing the Authority to serve customers in what had grown at that point to 15 municipalities. Construction on the permanent Forest Park Water Treatment Plant (FPWTP) with a capacity of 20 million gallons per day began in June of 1991. By 1993, NPWA was supplying an average of 7.5 million gallons of water per day to 21,000 customers with 73 production wells and 345 miles of main. The FPWTP officially went online on June 21, 1994. The treatment plant is a state-of-the-art surface water filtration plant that used conventional filtration plus the advanced treatment methods of granular activated carbon filtration and ozone disinfection. By 2005, surface water from the FPWTP was providing about 80% of the total water usage in the Authority’s service area, and expansion began to continue meeting the growing water demands. When it was completed in 2007, the plant provided a total capacity of 40 mgd. In addition to increasing capacity, the plant was also retrofitted with new treatment technologies, known as membranes and plate settlers. Those replaced the sand filter beds and sedimentation basins with upgraded treatment capabilities ensuring that the facility remains the state of the art treatment plant it was built to be. The “conjunctive use” strategy of using both groundwater and surface water to meet customers water needs that began in the 1980’s continues to this day with surface water now providing about 85% of the Authority’s total water supply.
In 2011, the Authority purchased the Sellersville Borough Water System, adding over 1,700 new customers to its system. Immediately thereafter, the Authority installed a new interconnection and transmission main to provide Sellersville with treated surface water from the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant, and began the process of replacing older water mains, valves, and fire hydrants, where needed, throughout the Sellersville Service Area.
What started out as a small water utility serving 7,000 customers in 7 municipalities through 72 miles of main has grown to one providing water to over 34,000 customers in 21 municipalities through over 560 miles of main. There have been many changes over the decades, but one thing has remained the same. NPWA is committed to bringing our customers a safe, reliable, and economical water supply now and into the future.