Aqua America's subsidiary Aqua Pennsylvania has received approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to purchase the wastewater assets of New Garden Township that serves about 2,100 customer connections in Chester County.

Aqua's application was the first that the PUC has considered since the state enacted Act 12, commonly referred to as fair market valuation legislation.

"We're proud that Aqua is the first to have an acquisition approved by the PUC under this new legislation," said Aqua America CEO Christopher Franklin.

The new law allows companies like Aqua to pay a fair market amount for municipal water and wastewater systems, benefitting local governments, customers, and the environment. Prior to FMV legislation, utilities were often limited to including only the original depreciated cost into their rate base, which became a regulatory barrier to a sale. Now, Aqua and other regulated utilities can leverage compliance expertise, purchasing power and operational efficiencies to benefit local systems' infrastructure and service.

"This purchase is all part of Aqua's efforts to do our part to strengthen wastewater infrastructure for communities in the states we serve, which means improved service and environmental stewardship for generations to come," Franklin said.

With the new legislation, Aqua is focused on balancing fair price for systems, making important infrastructure improvements and ensuring reasonable rates for its service. Aqua paid $29.5m for the New Garden system.

"We're thrilled to welcome New Garden Township residential and business customers to the Aqua family, and look forward to providing them the highest level of service and value," Franklin said. "We hope more communities take advantage of the benefits this new legislation can bring."

According to Franklin, Aqua expects to grow its customer base 1.5 to 2% in 2017.