Imagine a Day Without Water: Creating Awareness for Our Most Valuable Resource

Picture your day. Think about waking up, getting ready, making breakfast and going through your daily routine. Now picture doing everything without water. It would be virtually impossible, right? Water is our most important resource. Its most basic function is to sustain life, but there are so many other ways we incorporate it into our lives. 

Most people who have access to clean water tend to take it for granted. A family of four can use up to 400 gallons of water every day. It can be difficult to believe that there are places in the United States and all over the world with water shortages and lack of access to clean water. One in ten people worldwide lack access to water that is considered safe. Here in the United States, the West experiences major droughts every year.

On September 15, we encourage you to imagine a day without water. You can share your story about the importance of water in your life or even partner with a local organization that cares about water. You can also try to conserve your water use in many different ways at home. Here are a few suggestions:

·      Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater for watering your garden or lawn

·      Reuse cooking water or water leftover from water bottles to water houseplants

·      Update your appliances so they’re energy efficient 

·      Use a bucket in your shower to capture the water while it’s warming up and reuse it

 

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There are other ways for you to raise awareness, especially by involving your community. Consider writing an op-ed for your local newspaper or getting involved on social media by sharing graphics and educating your friends and followers. The Value of Water Coalition created a toolkit complete with fliers, bus ads and other communications materials to raise awareness about the importance of water.

At Aqua, water is our top priority. We fully realize the importance of water in our everyday lives and want everyone else to realize it as well. It’s important to not take our most essential resource for granted and to be grateful that we do have access to clean water. We strongly encourage you to sign up for Imagine a Day Without Water to help the cause and let us know how you do your part to conserve water on Facebook and Twitter.                      

 

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Aqua Leadership Travels to Panama to Provide Water Quality Expertise

Aqua’s leadership team recently joined forces with Villanova University to provide hands-on water quality expertise in Panama. The trip is one of the first in a new partnership between Aqua and the University’s College of Engineering to provide water infrastructure expertise in developing countries.

 

The team from Aqua traveled with representatives from Villanova Engineering Service Learning (VESL) to inspect water sites and meet with local community members and non-governmental organization partners. The six-day trip to the Alto Bayano region of Panama took place from August 11 to 16.

 

Aqua’s Rick Fox, Chief Operating Officer, Peter Virag (Corporate Energy Manager), Ryan Coombs (Chemist) and Deborah Watkins (Director, Water Quality & Environmental Compliance traveled to Panama with Jim O’Brien and Frank Falcone of the University’s College of Engineering.

 

 

A Panamanian representative, Father “Wally” Pablo Kasuboski, a Capuchin missionary priest from Wisconsin that has been serving in Panama for more than 30 years, led the representatives from Aqua and Villanova. Father Wally was the trip's visionary leader and works tirelessly on improving community conditions through ministry; building churches, roads, bridges, and water systems; and leading an agriculture cooperative while preserving the rain forests.

 

There were three specific goals defined by Aqua and Villanova going into the trip. These goals included:

·      developing an understanding of local culture and the four water systems in the Alto Bayano region;

·      evaluating existing water system challenges in the region including five leaking storage tanks and water quality concerns associated with chlorination and turbidity control during the rainy season; and

·      brainstorming ideas to address these challenges while understanding the capabilities of the local operators, materials available, and the economy of the region.  

 

Each day the team participated in different projects, including visiting a reservoir and dam, evaluating water storage and treatment methods, and analyzing samples from customers’ premises, storage tanks, and water sources in the region. The team attained a better understanding of the region's water systems and, throughout the course of their visit, collected samples for more detailed analysis at Aqua’s laboratory in Bryn Mawr.

 

While Aqua and the Villanova team were able to provide their expertise and services to one of the largest rural water supply systems in Central America, they also found time to experience the culture surrounding the Alto Bayano region. The team enjoyed a region filled with a beautiful mosaic of farmland, pastures, jungles, and city life. Life at the mission, the team’s home base, was delightful (and hot) with a smorgasbord of bunkhouses surrounded with wild animal noises, open air, copious amounts of rainfall, and great home cooking. The participants had the delight of trying the local cuisine including plantains, yucca root, beans, rice, Panamanian pizza, and Panamanian-influenced Chinese food.

 

The Panama trip participants enjoyed lending their expertise, learning about a new culture, and cautiously exploring the wildlife that calls the region home. Aqua and Villanova are looking forward to continuing their partnership and initiative to help international communities in desperate need of clean, safe drinking water. 

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Water Conservation: Back to School Edition

Going back to school can bring thoughts of autumn weather and homework. Water conservation in the classroom is not always a top priority, but we think it should be! You might be thinking that there isn’t very much you can do to conserve water at school and in the classroom, but we have some ideas for you.

 

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1. Teach

One of the first steps in water conservation is creating awareness. If you’re a teacher, consider creating a lesson that revolves around water conservation. For younger students, try a fun activity such as an edible aquifer or a water bracelet

 If you’re a parent and your child is not learning about water conservation at school, try teaching a small lesson. Even reading a book or watching a short video can help your child to realize the importance of water conservation.

 

2. Check

The place where students and teachers have the most control over water conservation is the bathroom. Make sure that the faucet is completely turned off and the toilet is no longer running before leaving the bathroom. If something seems to be leaking or off, notify maintenance so that they can fix the problem.

 

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3. Replace

A lot of schools already have energy-efficient equipment. If yours does not, make a suggestion to the school administration about replacing the old equipment. Dishwashers and other large appliances can use a great deal of water and energy. 

 

4. Reuse

Reuse water as much as possible in the classroom. If there is ever any leftover water from water bottles, consider watering a classroom plant or cleaning something with the water. Making sure that all water is put to good use is key to conservation.

 

5. Rethink

 

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Conserving water outside is important, too. If your school has a field or any kind of grass on the property, suggest setting the mower blades to 2-3 inches high. This way, the grass will be left long enough to shade the soil, which will allow for moisture retention and protect the grass from drought.

Water conservation is always important, don’t let it fall by the wayside this back to school season. With a little knowledge and creativity, water conservation can be easy and enjoyable for everyone!

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Do You Remember the Very First Week of September! – Labor Day Appreciation

We can’t believe it’s September already. What happened to summer – the camping trips, the beach weekends, the barbeques?

We actually shouldn’t be lamenting just yet. There’s still Labor Day! And that means one last hurrah before the leaves start to change and the kids go back to school. This weekend is the perfect time to get together with friends and family and have one more party with fireworks.

So, as we begin to end this incredible summer, we want to take some time to thank and recognize our employees – and every other loyal worker – and thank them for their hard work and dedication. 

Thank you to our crews who work around the clock to respond to emergencies and ensure water service through even the harshest of conditions. Thank you for your diligence and commitment to outstanding service through long hours and unpredictable circumstances to keep clean water flowing from our household taps.

We also owe our thanks to those in other industries who enable us to have the quality of life we appreciate now. Thank you to the carpenters who build our homes and the electricians who climb our power lines during thunderstorms.

These men and women have time and time again demonstrated a true devotion to their work. So, as we take this weekend to enjoy ourselves— let’s also show our appreciation to those who make our lives easier.

 

Thank you from Aqua America!

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The First-Ever Backhoe Challenge

As Aqua America celebrates 130 years of providing high-quality water service, it’s a good time to acknowledge what keeps us going strong: the Aqua employees

From engineers to customer service representatives to support coordinators and beyond, there’s a great group of people behind the water delivered to millions of people every day. That’s why every summer, we spend time at our annual company picnic. 

This year marked something new; something Aqua employees had never seen before. It was the first ever Backhoe Challenge.

 

What do you think looks the most difficult about this picture? Picking up a two-ounce egg with a spoon, OR picking up that same egg with a spoon that is attached to a 17,000 pound, 24-inch backhoe bucket? If you thought it's the latter, you're probably right. Which is what made the Backhoe Challenge such a fun challenge for the Aqua team! 

This inaugural event occurred during our annual company picnic that took place this year on July 21 at the Springton Reservoir, about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia.

It was designed by construction equipment vendor John Deere, and coordinated by our very own director of fleet and supply chain management, Charlie Stevenson, manager of fleet maintenance and compliance, Silvio DeAngelo and manager of Great Valley operations, Mike Filli. 

The idea was to represent all three Southeastern Pennsylvania operating divisions by dividing teams into two. This was determined by each division’s individual competitions that were held a few weeks prior to the finals. The winners were chosen by whichever operators successfully completed the events in the least amount of time. It was definitely a competition worth watching!

There were three events in the competition. Each involved the backhoe in some way or another. 

 

Round 1: The Egg Challenge 

The first event was the egg challenge, as seen above. The objective was to use a tablespoon that was attached to one of the backhoe bucket teeth, on the right side of the operator’s perspective. The operator had to pick up the egg from a sand mound and transport it to a hay bale on the left side of backhoe without breaking the egg. If the egg was broken, they had to start all over again. 

Just wait because it gets even more challenging.

 

Round 2: Balancing Balls  

For the second event, operators were required to move at least three of six, 10-inch diameter balls from atop equally-spaced safety cones with stabilizing cups.

To make matters even more difficult, the cones were lined up on the right side of the operator and the balls had to be placed in a tub located on the left side of the operator. At the end, they were required to return the bucket to the starting board. If the challenge was not completed correctly, they were asked to start over and wait for the cones to be reset.

 

 

 

Round 3: Joining Cylinders 

For the third event of the challenge, operators were required to use a chain with an s-hook attached to the backhoe bucket. They had to hook a vertical cylinder, about the size of a soda can, and move it to a receiving cylinder, which was not much larger 

The vertical cylinder had to be placed at least two thirds of the way into the receiving cylinder. In order for the challenge to be complete, the operators had to disconnect the cylinder and take the empty backhoe bucket back to the starting board.

 

The event seemed to bring everyone together, creating an undeniable energy during the competition. Great Valley manager, Mike Fili, who assisted in constructing the courses, says “There was a great sense of competition and boasting from them in the weeks leading up to the competition. They were talking smack about how they were going to beat one another. They had a lot of fun.”

Silvio DeAngelo saysthat while those competing made it look easy, it was not, as some of the participants had not operated these machines (daily) in years

 

“Even with training, not everyone can operate a backhoe. It requires great hand-eye coordination as well as a great sense of touch. Operators have to watch closely what the bucket is doing, and be even more diligent when using pilot control,” says  DeAngelo.

 

 

And the Winner Is...

The overall winner was theEastern division maintenance crew leader, Joe Sciallis, who admitted the most difficult challenge was the chain and cylinder. He had the honor of taking the Backhoe Challenge trophy back to the division's Willow Grove office.

Vice president of network, Marc Lucca, jokes that the Willow Grove division manager, Rob McNamara, will “bring the trophy to the division managers’ meetings just so they are all reminded of the current Backhoe Challenge Champion.”

It is safe to say that the first-ever Backhoe Challenge was an incredible success! It will be back at next year’s picnic with new and exciting challenges so stay tuned.

 

Learn more about the people behind Aqua’s water service here.

 

 

 

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