Get To Know Aqua: Engineer Derek Sutton

Carmel’s internationally famous roundabouts are helping Derek and Petra Sutton feel at home in Indiana. They are daily reminders of the couple’s life in Sweden. 

The Suttons recently moved from Stockholm to Carmel after Derek signed on as the statewide engineer for Aqua Indiana, owner and operator of both public drinking water and wastewater systems in several Hoosier communities.   

“We moved back to the Indianapolis area to be close to my family,” Sutton explains. “Carmel felt like the best fit for us due to our passion for enjoying the outdoors. Carmel has done a great job of building biking and walking trails similar to those in Europe and around Stockholm. You feel more comfortable being out when there is separation from the heavy traffic here in Indiana.”

Derek had already established his career in water systems engineering when a chance meeting changed his future. While vacationing in Florida, he met Petra, a native of Finland, who was enjoying sunshine over the Christmas holiday. Love blossomed, adventure called, and Sutton found himself working as a consultant on water projects in Sweden.

Sweden, about the size of California, is home to 9.7 million people. Enjoying nature is more than just part of Swedish culture, it’s a right that Swedes take seriously. The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) means everyone is entitled to hike through forests and fields to pick berries and mushrooms without asking the landowner’s permission. Visitors have an obligation to respect the natural environment and private property.

Derek Sutton says this environmental ethos carries over to attitudes about water, which covers 9 percent of Sweden’s total landmass. “Swedes expect water to be pure and clean. They believe you should be able to drink from lakes or streams. Tap water is actually preferred over bottled water, which is hard to find.” 

Irrigated lawns are as rare in Sweden as traffic roundabouts are in most of Indiana – except Carmel. Sutton says he and Petra enjoy the roundabouts. “They are predominant in the suburbs of Stockholm.” His engineer’s brain appreciates the continuous traffic flow and the fact that roundabouts slow traffic to safer speeds. “We do miss Sweden’s public transportation. The bus, train, rail and subway system around Stockholm is awesome. You can live without a car there.”

Sutton says personal satisfaction from helping to improve Hoosier communities eased his relocation back to Indiana. “Working for Aqua as an engineer and project manager over infrastructure improvements is exactly what I find rewarding. If you’re interested in a career that provides a real sense that you are helping the community and serving in the best interest of the public, then a water-related career is a great option.”

The adjustment to Indiana’s culture for his Nordic wife has been eased by getting acquainted with Swedes who live in the Carmel area. They meet regularly and “There is even a Swedish school that meets on Sundays for the children to stay active in the language and culture. Most are Eli Lilly transplants here on working assignments.” The Suttons were surprised to meet a Finnish woman with a family connection who lives nearby. “Petra and this woman’s husband are distant relatives and from neighboring villages in Finland. They were both able to find one another in genealogy records.”

A trip to the supermarket or restaurants is another opportunity for contrasting cultures. In Sweden, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and caviar are commonly sold in tubes. And at restaurants, Sutton says, “Swedish food has more fish than the typical Hoosier menu. But the best part of the Swedish cuisine is the diversity available from the immigrants that call Sweden home. There is Thai, Lebanese, Greek, Balkan and many others available that are so good. I did miss Mexican, though. Indiana has better Mexican.”

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Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Into The H20 Habit

By now you’ve probably done all your to-dos for the new school year. Shoes have been purchased, notebooks and pencils packed and lunch schedules finalized. One to-do that’s not so obvious is making sure your child is drinking enough water, and knows when enough is enough. Developing healthy water habits is crucial for staying energetic and alert, and can affect the dietary habits of your child for years to come. Here are some of our tips and tricks on how to get your kids into the H20 habit.

Invest in a fun water bottle or silly straws

 

Investing in a fun, reusable water bottle featuring your child’s favorite cartoon character makes drinking water far more interesting. Plus, your child can always go to the water fountain for a quick refill. And what about all those silly straws? There’s something more exciting about using a straw than simply drinking out of a cup. With all the new straw designs, the possibilities for creativity are endless.

Prepare tasty popsicles

 

After a long school day, it’s hard not to crave some sugar. Take advantage of your child’s sweet tooth by making water-based popsicles. Simply mix a little juice with tap water and treat your child to this tasty yet healthy snack. You can prepare the popsicles as soon as your child comes home and place them in the freezer during homework time. By the time your child completes all school assignments, the popsicles should be ready to eat and you can offer the snack as a perk.

Water Tracker 

 

Create a chart with every family member’s name and place a golden star sticker next the name of whoever drinks an eight ounce glass of H20. Keep track of how much water your child is drinking by the amount of stars earned at the end of each week.

Serve water before and after school

 

Replace sugary beverages like juice and soda with water. This is the simplest way to prevent temptation: reduce other available options. During breakfast be sure that your child drinks at least one glass of water to sustain hydration and energy during school hours. Not only can dehydration cause fatigue, but also it can also trigger various health issues. When your child comes home, fill a cup with tap water and place it nearby during homework time to make it easily accessible. Brainpower requires staying hydrated, and water is the perfect way to keep your child awake and alert.

Just add fruit! 

 

Add a few slices of fruit to tap water and instantly add some flavor and extra vitamins too! Squeeze some lemon for a fresh zesty taste or add in your child’s favorite fruits for a splash of sugar creating a healthy, sweet flavor without all the unnecessary ingredients and processing.

 

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