By David Johnson — Reading Eagle correspondent

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed covers 64,000 square miles, encompassing 17 million residents, including all of central Pennsylvania.

More than 150 rivers and streams empty into it, and it is home to 3,600 species of plants and animals.It has also been the subject of a restoration and protection effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since the early 1970s.Commercial and industrial businesses produce residual waste that must be removed and taken to a licensed disposal site. Improper removal and illegal dumping means contaminants can get into the water supply. Paint, oil, asphalt and even road salt that run into the storm sewers pose a threat to the local ecosystem.Where these types of waste wind up can be surprising; storm water drains in large mall parking lots, grease traps in restaurants and storm water systems in agricultural areas. Agriculture poses one of the largest threats to environmental protection with the wide variety of chemicals used to grow crops.

Enter jgenvironmental.

Proper cleaning

“Fertilizer and chemicals used on farms can often wind up in the storm sewer systems,” said James H. Guerin, owner of jgenvironmental in Lancaster. “You need to get the sludge and grit out of those basins. Proper cleaning and remediation of pipes will keep contaminants out of the rivers.”The company says it can clean out just about anything that doesn’t contain a hazardous material. The majority of the business, about 80 percent, is industrial and commercial cleaning. It also assists with municipal wastewater treatment services.Founded in 2008 by Guerin, jgenvironmental specializes in the removal of residual waste, including storm water and wastewater management. Keeping the waste out of the rivers and streams is important, but it was a side business that got the company its start.”In 1988 I built a car wash as a second income,” Guerin explained. “I dealt with a company that came in to clean our drains and remove residual waste. Several years later I was working for them.”Guerin spent 10 years in that job before he branched out on his own. He opened jgenvironmental in 2008 and purchasing his first Super Vac truck in 2010, which he parked at the end of his driveway.

Berks business on rise

Guerin said business in Berks County is on the rise for his company.”We are getting more and more work in Berks County,” said Guerin. “We tend to operate in a 30-mile radius around our facility.”And Guerin says business is good. The company has seen about 25 to 30 percent growth each year since it opened its doors. Guerin attributes that success to staying small and keeping overhead to a minimum.Guerin recently purchased a facility on Flory Mill Road in Lancaster, leaving the Keller Avenue site where the company has been the last three years. With a four-bay garage and two offices, he can store all of his vehicles indoors and provide locker rooms, showers and a lunchroom for his employees.One of Guerin’s biggest challenges is finding qualified employees. Aside from having a commercial driver’s license, the job requires employees to be certified in confined space entry as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Hydroexcavation

The newest service offered by jgenvironmental is hydroexcavation, a nondestructive process that uses pressurized water and high-powered vacuums to excavate land. Water is used to break up the soils, which are quickly vacuumed up and stored in a tank. Because it does not require heavy equipment, the equipment can safely be used around electrical, gas and other utilities buried close by.”It’s much faster than you would think,” said Guerin. “We can fill a 12-cubic-foot truck four times a day.”Hydroexcavation also doesn’t need to wait until the weather is warm. The water, which is heated, thaws the soil as it breaks it apart. This new service is becoming very popular among Guerin’s clients.”It’s the first brand-new truck we’ve bought,” Guerin said. “It is going to be a major component of our success in the future.” Contact David Johnson: money@readingeagle.com.