Kate Harper Helps Mark the 25th Anniversary of the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant

Forest Park Water Treatment Plant

Forest Park Water (FPW) is an advanced drinking water treatment facility jointly owned and operated by the North municipal water authorities. The non-profit water municipal authorities formed their unique partnership for the purpose of working together to obtain a reliable water supply to meet the current and future demands of their customers. Their vision became reality with the completion of the Forest Park Water facility in 1994. Catherine M. (“Kate”) Harper was asked to speak at the 25th anniversary of this unique relationship. Her remarks follow:

Surely, 25 years of producing clean water in an award winning water treatment plant is worthy of a celebration, so I am very happy to be here with you to celebrate that.

But as a former Chair of the Pennsylvania House Local Government Committee, there’s another reason I am celebrating this milestone—this is a water treatment plant owned by the people it serves and run by their local governments through a partnership between two municipal authorities run by its citizens and ratepayers. I am so proud to know these local governments and these two municipal authorities.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with “investor owned water companies,” and Pennsylvania has its share of notable ones, but there is something surely noteworthy and remarkable about an award winning water treatment facility run by two local government agencies—the North Penn Water Authority and the North Wales Water Authority.

I am sure the Board members of each authority will credit their excellent executive directors, their reliable staffs and those who work here every day to ensure the plant is producing clean water for the citizens, and they deserve great credit. But consider for a moment the careful stewardship of this precious resource—clean water—is done by citizens appointed to make decisions about ensuring their local residents have enough water, enough clean water and water that’s so reliable that no one even thinks about where it comes from and how it gets to their taps. Where would we be without it?

That’s a remarkable achievement –not by people who own stock or stock options or who are well-compensated to make the right decisions. Nope! These citizen members of the North Wales Water Authority and North Penn Water Authority are basically volunteers. Building “The Pump” and the Forest Park Treatment facility was visionary at the time it was conceived. And yes, it took years to successfully conclude the litigation to make it happen—here I pause to remember a partner at my firm, Timoney Knox, LLP, Jerry Cardamone, who was lead counsel and obsessively devoted to the project’s success. Another now retired Timoney Knox partner, Ann Thornburg Weiss, Montgomery County’s Clerk of Courts, worked alongside Jerry for years to make this happen.

To understand how remarkable this place is—it’s important to realize that Montgomery County, and Bucks County, were about to experience tremendous population growth. Each County grew by more than 100,000 people between 1980 and 2000. That was only possible because Forest Park was able to provide clean drinking water for all of those new residents. Where would we be without it?

In recent years, as growth continues, Forest Park provides water not only to new residences, and new businesses in Montgomery County, but has become the “go to” source for clean water in the wake of the PFAS contamination problem near the military bases in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington, communities which had public water that is no longer drinkable. Where would we be without it?

Ben Franklin, who said a lot of good things, once said, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” So today, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Forest Park Water Treatment facility, we can think, “Where would we be without it?” and be grateful this well is not dry.

Congratulations to the North Wales Water Authority and the North Penn Water Authority. Well done.