Suez, Estuary Partnership put some mussel into water filtering effort

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Each floating mussel growth basket is anchored to the bottom of  Suez' Lake Bellevue with rope and cinder block. (Suez photo)

Suez officials in Delaware joined with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE)  in Lake Bellevue to restore fresh water mussel populations.

 Acting as an incubator, the lake will help grow juvenile mussels until they are large enough to be placed in creeks Suez uses in obtaining drinking water.

Suez depends on the White and Red Clay Creeks to meet the drinking water needs of a population of 100,000 in northern New Castle County. That allows the utility to charge lower rates than rival Artesian, which taps underground supplies. 

At one time, the  creeks were home to hundreds of thousands of the water filtering bivalves. If populations  can be restored, the natural water filterers could improve source water quality before it reaches Suez’ drinking water production facilities in an environmentally sustainable fashion, while potentially cutting the cost of producing drinking water.

Operations Director Larry Finnicum says, “This environmentally sustainable effort fits perfectly within  Suez’ commitment to operate with respect for the planet.  The potential benefits could include reducing our carbon footprint to cutting costs which could reduce upward pressure on our customers’ water rates.”

This is the latest joint effort between  Suez and the partnership, which leads efforts to improve the tidal Delaware River and Bay, which spans Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Suez helps fund PDE efforts to “teach the teachers” each summer to increase education about the importance of protecting the environment.   Suez  also has partnered with PDE to decrease negative effects of pet waste runoff into area waterways.

Using  specially designed grow baskets, PDE has placed 1,200 juvenile mussels in  Suez’ Lake Bellevue  in determining Delaware locations  that can produce the  fastest growth of juvenile mussels.  SUEZ has previously hosted PDE science staff at the Lake Bellevue site after mature mussel shells were found in abundance, indicating enhanced chances of success. 

Suez, formerly United Water,  operates the public water supply system for a large portion of northern New Castle County. Suez is a multinational utility company based in France.

The service area contains a population of approximately 100,000, with approximately 38,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers. Water delivered to  Suez  customers is collected and purified at the Stanton Water Treatment Plant, which has  a capacity of 30 million gallons a day (MGD).

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