Media Release

Penetron Technology Helps Eliminate PFAS Chemicals in New Pennsylvania Treatment Facility


The December 2023 commissioning of the Aqua Pennsylvania advanced PFAS treatment facility in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, protects customers from long-term exposure to unwanted chemicals. PENETRON ADMIX SB, a non-toxic crystalline waterproofing admixture, was used to waterproof and protect the facility’s concrete tanks from constant exposure to water.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a type of man-made chemical used in consumer goods to make them permanently water-, stain-, and grease-resistant. Often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are nearly indestructible, PFAS are also toxic at extremely low levels (i.e., parts per quadrillion). Unfortunately, these chemicals can accumulate in the bodies of people repeatedly exposed to them over time, which can pose significant health risks.

Covering 32 counties across the state, Aqua Pennsylvania (Aqua) provides drinking water to an estimated 1.5 million customers. To best maintain high drinking water standards, the utility addressed the presence of unwanted PFAS, specifically perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoro-octane sulfonate (PFOS), in the region’s drinking water.

Recently, Aqua’s Hatboro Wells #6 and #8, which produce a total flow rate of 420 gallons per minute, showed concentrations of PFOA and PFOS compounds that required treatment to maintain the company’s water quality standards, which are more rigorous than current regulatory limits. The #6 and #8 Hatboro wells and PFAS treatment station are situated in Blair Mill Park, a small suburban neighborhood playground in Horsham Township, a municipality with over 26,000 inhabitants in eastern Pennsylvania.

“Aqua compared carbon contactors and ion exchange treatment units to determine an optimum solution for removing PFOS and PFOA compounds at the Hatboro wells,” adds Christopher Chen, Director of The Penetron Group. “They also assessed process wastewater disposal options, chemical disinfection alternatives, and single vs. double pumping arrangements to find the optimal solution.”

Based on the results of the pilot testing, engineers at Gannett Fleming designed a treatment facility equipped with ion exchange resin treatment units, which included new well pumps, three separate chemical rooms, an external brine tank, and electrical and mechanical rooms.

“Combining Aqua’s water treatment from two wells in a new PFAS treatment facility not only provides safer drinking water, but also improves operational efficiencies,” says Christopher Chen.

Because the concrete treatment tanks of the new Hatboro PFAS treatment facility are constantly exposed to water and moisture, Rahns Concrete, the ready-mix concrete supplier, specified PENETRON ADMIX SB, a crystalline waterproofing admixture, to treat the concrete of the recessed pit area and specific treatment tanks.

Once added to the mix during the batching phase, PENETRON ADMIX SB helps make concrete impermeable, stopping water and chemicals from entering the concrete, even under the constant hydrostatic pressure encountered in a water treatment plant. The admixture’s added ability to permanently self-heal any future microcracks prevents any damage from occurring over the service life of the concrete.