Project Update

Water Filtration Plant Upgrades

Large electrical components were replaced at the Water Filtration Plant, improving reliability and resiliency!

Photo showing Variable Frequency Drive electrical components being delivered on a flatbed tractor trailer.

The Water Filtration Plant, located in Allentown, produces an average of 22 million gallons of water per day (mgd). The plant was originally built in 1928 and permitted for 10 mgd. Upgrades in the early 1950s increased the plant’s production capacity to 30 mgd, supporting growth and customer demand. 

Some of the components within the plant are original and maintained with replacement parts and repairs, although it is getting harder to find parts for some due to their age. Other components, when past their useful life or no longer running efficiently, require replacement.

A capital project was recently completed to upgrade the power system for the large “high service” pumps that send water out to the City’s water distribution system, and out to LCA’s Central Lehigh Division through an interconnection with the City’s system.  Three 2300-volt variable frequency drives (VFDs) were delivered and installed to allow pumps to operate at various pumping rates. Two of the drives replaced existing VFDs that were more than 20 years old and at the end of their service life, and a third VFD was added to an existing constant-speed pump.

The variable frequency drives automatically control the motor speeds (and therefore pumping rates) for the large “high service pumps” that are powered by 1,000 horsepower motors. The pumps can each move approximately 10,500 gallons of water per minute, based on customer demand. The new VFD system automatically responds to variances in water demand by adjusting motor speeds (pumping rates), which can change by the minute. This reduces costs for power, versus continuously sending a solid power supply to the pumps, which would represent a constant speed system.

Video Highlights of Water Filtration Plant Upgrades – Equipment Delivery & Objectives

The total cost for this project was $1.4 million, paid for by a low-interest PENNVEST loan. PENNVEST funds sewer, stormwater, and drinking water projects across Pennsylvania, supporting healthy communities and the environment while providing better financing opportunities for borrowers. This means a lower impact on customer rates, which is important to LCA.

Chief Capital Works Officer Charles Volk, P.E. explains, “LCA’s asset management and systematic maintenance programs help us deliver our mission to protect public health and the environment. Our engineers and operations team continually monitor our assets and then identify cost-effective improvements that will increase resiliency and reduce service interruptions for our customers. Decisions to invest in asset upgrades like the VFDs at the water filtration plant protect the life-sustaining services we provide.”