Winter Weather Road Treatment and Drinking Water

 

Winter weather can wreak havoc on area roadways and on utility systems, particularly water and electric companies.  The freeze-and-thaw cycle can lead to water main breaks and freezing temperatures can cause indoor plumbing and service lines to freeze, leading to service interruptions and broken pipes inside the home. Frost in the ground, which penetrates deeper when there is no snow cover or when moisture gets in the ground, will add an enormous downward load on pipes causing them to crack; and if shallow enough, to freeze. Ice on tree limbs can create unbearable weight, which can cause them to breach power lines, leading to service outages.  And we all know the potential hazard of driving on roadways that have not been treated for ice.

Municipalities and state highway departments use various forms of salt to keep highways from freezing so vehicles can drive safely. Road salt is commonly made up of some combination of sodium, chloride and calcium, all of which are naturally occurring and can be found in drinking water on any given day. They are not removed through the conventional  drinking water treatment process.

When runoff occurs, as a result of thawing or rain, road salts are washed from the roadways into the ground and surface waters, like rivers, streams and reservoirs. When runoff occurs as a result of a heavy rain, the impact of the salts on the waterways are dissipated by the dilution of the large volume of rain water. The impact of the runoff may also differ based on the size of the watershed area and the size of the affected body of surface water, such as the Delaware River compared to a local stream.

Usually, the impact of the road salts on the drinking water is minimal, with just a few customers who can taste the difference calling the utility. However, if the runoff occurs after a series of road saltings due to multiple storms and the ground remains frozen for an extended period of time, which prevents the percolation of the salt into the ground, the high concentrations of salt running into a small local stream can result in a salty taste to the drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the many state environmental regulatory agencies—including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP)—have no regulatory standards for either sodium or calcium in drinking water.

EPA and many state environmental regulatory agencies—such as PA DEP— have secondary (aesthetic) regulatory standards for chloride. Secondary standards are not considered to have any public health risks.

Primary and secondary drinking water standards are set with the general public in mind. If any customer feels they are an exception to the general public and have a concern about their drinking water, they should contact their primary health care provider for counsel.

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Meet Aqua Indiana’s Yan Ma, Chinese Folk Dancer, as She Celebrates the Year of the Sheep

February marks the Chinese New Year — 2015 is the Year of the Sheep — so there is no better time to get to know Aqua Indiana employee Yan Ma, a Chinese native who will celebrate her fifth anniversary with Aqua this August. 

As a financial accountant based in Aqua Indiana’s Indianapolis offices, Yan is responsible for Aqua Indiana’s monthly, quarterly and annual internal financial reporting, in addition to reporting to regulatory agencies.

Yan moved to the U.S. from China 18 years ago. After graduating from Ball State University with a B.S. and M.S. in accounting, she held positions with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Bankers Conseco Life and Ernst & Young, to name a few, before coming to Aqua.

When Yan isn’t dealing with numbers, she is getting in touch with her more creative side, sharing her culture through the art of Chinese folk dancing and singing. In fact, she has performed in many Chinese festivals in the Indianapolis area and is also a member of a local Chinese choir. Yan has been performing since 2002, when she first moved to Indianapolis. Her performances, she explains, allow her to build a bridge connecting her Eastern and Western cultures.

“Singing and dancing to my culture’s music helps me relax and relieves my homesickness, and most importantly, it is fun,” says Yan. “My dance team consists of professionals from within different industries including scientists, accountants, IT engineers, etc. I love dancing with these fine individuals and sharing my cultural background with local communities through various performances,” Yan says.

Yan also participates in half-marathons and loves to travel, embracing every culture along the way. She strives to be a global citizen in everything that she does.

Yan’s favorite water activity — aside from working in the water industry, of course — is to watch her children’s swimming lessons. She and her husband of 22 years, Mark, have two one-year-old twins.

Yan enjoys getting to know employees she doesn’t usually work with, so take the time to get to know her as she dances her way into a new year!

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Diary of an Aqua Water Drop: Chloe (Wastewater From Homes)

Hey there! It’s Chloe again. Last time we talked I told you about my epic journey from being a groundwater water drop to a clean, ready-to-be-used water drop. Well, do I have a story for you about where I’ve been since then! 

Wastewater From Homes

 

Today was a wakeup call for me. I was sitting in my tank minding my own business when woosh! I’m being shot through pipes and used to clean little Tommy who obviously had way too much fun at the beach today. Now I’m covered in sand, greasy sunscreen, a runaway beach tag, and soap — an uncomfortable situation — and am now considered wastewater. Goodbye my old friends who are wanted water drops. I’m now unsuitable to go home where I had just settled down. So alone and disgusting, it’s time to make my journey through these pipes into a world unknown.

 

Screening

 

As you know,  I feel completely and utterly yucky covered in grease, sand, and this darn beach tag.. If you’ve ever met plastics before, you know they can clog things up. Luckily our first stop is the screening process, so this freeloader jerk gets held back by a screen as I rush on through. It’s like a weight off my shoulder. 

 

Primary Clarification

Although I’m glad  my buddy the beach tag is gone, I’m still quite greasy, sandy, and soapy. Now soap is a fun thing to hang out with It’s bubbly and clean, but not the type of clean I want to be. Also all those bubbles have me feeling a bit gassy (not to mention the grease and the sand aren’t making things easier). After the screening, we were rushed along to primary clarification where the sand and grease finally sunk to the bottom – good riddance. They were clogging up my style. Meanwhile, my sweet soapy friend was whisked off by a skimmer. It was tough saying goodbye to such a fun thing as soap, but I have a feeling I’ll see it again.

 

Biological Treatment and Final Clarification

In the next tank I’m suddenly swarmed by microscopic organisms. Their job is to break down the organic material inside me. It tickles as they nibble away at the leftovers. Suddenly, I look around and realize everything is clear again. I hadn’t realized how dirty I’d become since the beginning of this journey, but it felt great to be more like myself again. 

 

 Filtration

Although I felt better, after all this time some particles were still clinging to me during this journey. Couldn’t they tell that this club was for water only? Thank goodness we got to the filtration tank because as I carelessly swam through, these clingy guys got held back. 

 

Disinfection

 

At this point things got weird. My fellow water droplets and I thought we were in the clear, but we were swiftly informed that harmful organisms that could cause people to get sick were possibly hiding in our ranks. It was scary. I wanted them to be gone so I could be pure again. Suddenly there was a blinding ultraviolet light shining on us – makes me wish I had Tommy’s sun glasses. We could hear as the harmful organisms left this world forever – the saying that only the good die young doesn’t apply here.

 

 Discharge

We’re finally home free! Who knew life could be this good? Now that we’re perfectly purified, we were gently poured into a river. Here I ran into some old friends from way back in the Jurassic years. It’s amazing how time does little to us aqua drops. We’re hoping this river leads us to Mexico or Hawaii. I’d love to come back to humanity as crushed ice in a mixed drink – I’ve done my time cleaning other people up and deserve some “me” time! Peace out!

 

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Imposter Alert: Protect Yourself and Your Belongings

Aqua recently learned of an incident involving a man identifying himself as a water company employee to gain access into a customer’s home and steal their belongings. Aqua would like to use this unfortunate event as an opportunity to remind our customers about this issue so you’re more aware in the future.

 

Imagine it’s the early morning and you’re home alone. A man outside identifies himself as a water company employee. He says there are leaks in your area, and he’s checking the homes on your street and needs to check your meter and the inside pipes. Once inside, he asks you to run water in the util­ity sink as he checks the upstairs bathroom sink. While upstairs, he steals jewelry and money left on a dresser.

 

In most cases, the only time Aqua would need to be inside your home is to service or exchange a meter or to respond to a problem about which you called us. In the former case, Aqua would contact you by mail or phone to schedule an appointment first.

 

There are a few exceptions when you might receive an unannounced visit from Aqua:

 

  • An employee might come to your door to make you aware of an unscheduled service outage, such as a main break. In this case, the employee would not need to access the inside of your home. An Aqua employee might also make an unannounced visit to investigate a property that has had multiple “zero usage” bills or an account that has not had a meter read for more than 45 days.
  • If a meter reader has trouble getting a remote meter read from outside your home, he might ask to enter you home to read the meter, in which case he would present a photo ID card.

 

 

For your safety and security, we encourage all customers to be extra cautious. Unfortunately, thieves like these might strike again. You can protect yourself by remembering the following information.

  1. All Aqua employees carry company identifica­tion. In all cases, please confirm the representative’s identification before letting them into your home.
  2. All employees dress in Aqua-branded attire similar to the uniform shown above.
  3. Company vehicles (mostly white Chevrolets) with the Aqua logo prominently displayed are always used.

If you encounter someone who is pretending to be an Aqua employee, please call your local police department and report them.

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