Aqua Ohio Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Johnson

Aqua continues to highlight each of our eight states for a month at a time. Throughout July, our focus has been on sharing all about Aqua Ohio. One way we’re sharing our story, is by sharing our employees’ stories. 

When Aqua Ohio Area Manager Jennifer Johnson was preparing to graduate from Youngstown State University in the spring of 1998, she wasn’t expecting her first job to be with a water utility.

“When I was first hired by Aqua Ohio in the spring of my senior year of college, I used to think that I just had a job with a utility company,” said Johnson. “Now, after many years in the field and holding different positions within Aqua, I consider myself a utility professional.”

Johnson started as communications coordinator for Aqua Ohio in 1998 and held the position for seven years. But the desire to explore beyond eastern Ohio was strong and she moved with her family (husband Kevin and son, Kevin Jr.) to Columbus. For five years she was the director of human resources at a law firm before she felt the pull to move back home.

Johnson and her family moved back to her hometown of Lowellville, Ohio in 2010 when she began her second position at Aqua as Ohio’s Customer Field Services Manager. In 2015, Johnson became the area manager for the Struthers Division at Aqua Ohio, her current position today.

As area manager, Johnson is responsible for the overall management and operations of the water and wastewater facilities within her division, including operational efficiency, financial viability, quality customer service, employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and community relationships.

Johnson’s first two years as area manager have been busy and productive. Not only did Aqua purchase land and break ground on a new building in Struthers, but Johnson hired and on-boarded 11 new employees and negotiated a five-year rate plan with 10 municipal authorities in the Struthers Division service territory.

As one of the few female area managers, Johnson is well aware that she is in a traditionally male profession and role. She is grateful to be surrounded by a very supportive group of colleagues and division team at Aqua.

“The overwhelming majority of feedback I receive in the community is very supportive, especially from other women,” said Johnson. “As a female in a traditionally male role, I feel pride and a responsibility to be a role model for young girls; to show them women can do anything.”

While Johnson’s work life is demanding, she is appreciative to have time to take part in another passion – giving back.

“I was very fortunate during my early years at Aqua to have the opportunity to be involved in local community organizations,” said Johnson. “Now, as an area manager, I am able to direct my community involvement and Aqua’s philanthropic support to local community events and organizations that directly benefit our customer base. The Struthers Division is very visible in the community and we go beyond ‘writing a check.’”

Johnson serves on the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Community Leadership Council and serves as co-chair of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Breakfast with Santa event, which raises more than $10,000 each year for the hospital. The hospital services the Struthers service territory and Johnson believes it’s important to give back to such a prominent hospital that provides such a vital service to the community.

Johnson also serves as president of the Rotary Club of Struthers, chairperson of the Lowellville Schools Foundation and is a member of the Youngstown Business Incubator Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Steering Committee.

“This job has showed me that it is possible to have a family, successful career and time to give back,” said Johnson. “I am thankful to work for Aqua, a company that believes in supporting a work-life balance, which allows me to grow in my career and support community efforts that I am passionate about.”

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Animal Hydration is a Priority at the Philadelphia Zoo


This is a guest blog by the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, keeping animals cool and hydrated is an important part of caring for the 1,300 animals that call America’s first zoo home.

Depending on the animal, there are a variety of ways to keep the residents at the Zoo chill in the warm summer months, including mud wallows, misters, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), access to air conditioned indoor areas and, of course, lots of water. Each species may prefer or need something different, and zookeepers work to provide what is best for the animal they care for.

For Tony, our southern white rhinoceros, mud wallows in his exhibit seem to work best. Keepers excavate a large area and fill it up with fresh water and watch Tony roll around and frolic in the mud. Besides the fun and the ability to cool down, the mud bath offers a variety of benefits to Tony, including providing a natural UV buffer to protect his skin and defense against pesky insects.

Mammals like Amur tigers, snow leopards and red pandas always have access to their indoor areas if they want to go inside to hang out in air conditioning. Hippos, tigers, polar bears, otters and more have large swimming pools and area water misters if they want to take a quick dip to cool off. Of course, every animal at the Zoo has continuous access to fresh drinking water. 

Additionally, keepers provide frozen and delectable ice treats as another creative way to keep the animals cool and hydrated. Many animal residents are treated to refreshments like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, or other snacks that have been frozen in ice.

Icy delicacies like fishsicles are a favorite for our giant river otters and polar bear. Frozen fish like smelt and trout are not only a vital part of our otter’s diet, but they also act as a refreshing treat and are always a welcome snack!

No matter the species, the well-being of every animal at the Zoo is the number one priority. As America’s first zoo, we offer well-established animal care programs and work with dedicated teams to ensure the best care for all of the wildlife living within our historic gates.

On your next Zoo visit, keep an eye out for our animal residents and the unique ways they keep cool and hydrated!

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Municipalities Turn to Aqua for Water and Wastewater Expertise


By Aqua Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development Dan Schuller

For decades, cities and towns across the United States have grappled with the responsibilities that come with owning, operating and maintaining their own water and wastewater systems. For some, rapidly aging infrastructure has proven prohibitively expensive to maintain or replace. Others are struggling to keep up with increasingly stringent state and federal drinking water and wastewater regulations. Even municipalities that operate their water and wastewater systems successfully are finding it more and more challenging to maintain balanced budgets when faced with managing a myriad competing priorities like roads, bridges, parks, libraries, police and other community needs.

With more than 130 years of technical expertise in the water industry, Aqua is proud to provide a solution to municipalities facing these challenges. Since 2007, we have acquired 174 water and wastewater systems, including more than 20 municipal systems – helping us to become one of largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation. By leveraging our compliance expertise, purchasing power and operational efficiencies, Aqua has infused needed capital and resources into the systems we aquire to rehabilitate and operate the infrastructure required for clean drinking water and wastewater.


For Aqua, the business model is about more than growth – it also allows us to do our part to strengthen water and wastewater infrastructure in communities across the states we serve. It’s a responsibility about which we feel strongly – and it’s why Aqua will invest more than $450 million in water and wastewater infrastructure in 2017 alone, after having invested $1.5 billion in capital improvements over the past five years.

The opportunity to sell their systems to Aqua is a win-win for local governments and customers, too. Municipalities are alleviated from the responsibility and cost of maintaining their own systems, and customers also benefit from Aqua’s investment in their town’s infrastructure, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing a trusted company is ensuring the reliability and quality of their water or wastewater service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plus, many municipalities are able to use the proceeds from the sale of their systems for other important needs within their communities.


We’re proud of the role we’re playing in improving our nation’s water and wastewater systems. To learn more about Aqua’s partnerships with municipal water and wastewater utilities and our ongoing commitment to investing in America’s infrastructure, please visit




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Ask a Vet: Pet Hydration 101!

This is a guest blog by Kristin Budinich, VMD, of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

July is Pet Hydration Month, and with summer in full swing, keeping your pet hydrated in the heat and humidity is essential for keeping them healthy and preventing illness.

Just like people, your pet’s body is made up of mostly water—about 80 percent. Water is essential for every important bodily function, and without it, they wouldn’t survive. In addition to helping with food digestion and nutrient absorption, water helps our pets regulate their body temperature (which is especially important in the summer because dogs don’t sweat) and flush toxins out of the body.  

While we may scrutinize the ingredient list on a bag of food to select a high quality diet for our pet, most of us don’t give nearly enough attention to the other important part of overall nutrition: water! Our pets require adequate amounts of water each day so that their bodies can stay healthy.

How much water does your pet actually need?

As a general rule, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Activity levels and environmental factors will obviously play a role; dogs that are more active require more water, while sedentary pets in cooler environments may require less. Dogs regulate their body temperature mainly by panting, so these water losses will need to be replaced on those hot summer days.

Since most of us are in the habit of just filling the water bowl and plopping it on the ground until it’s empty and we fill it again, how can you be sure that your pet is getting enough water?

  • Measure the amount of water that you pour into your pet’s bowl. This is easy enough, and can help you monitor intake. Remember that canned food is about 70 to 80 percent water, so pets that eat canned food may drink less than those on a dry diet.
  • Ensure that fresh water is available at all times, and that the water bowl is large enough, not tippable and cleaned regularly.
  • Cats may prefer a water fountain of continuously circulating water if they tend to enjoy drinking from the sink.
  • If your pet frequently moves throughout the house, place water sources on each floor of the home where they most often spend their time.
  • A portable water bowl should be taken on walks, or brought outside during longer play periods.
  • Ice cubes can be added to the dog’s water bowl or given as a treat. Oral electrolyte solutions or broths are available for finicky drinkers, and edible liquids can also be frozen into Kong toys for added fun and a yummy treat!

Remember that pets with illnesses such as diabetes or kidney diseases may have increased thirst compared to their healthy counterparts, but if your pet hasn’t been diagnosed with one of these things and they are constantly at the water bowl, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

How do you know if your pet is dehydrated?

Telltale signs of dehydration include sticky gums, sunken eyes or decreased activity. Check your pet’s “skin tent” for a quick assessment of hydration by gently lifting up on the skin between your animal’s shoulder blades, then watching how quickly it falls back into place. Normally, the skin should fall right back into place, but in a dehydrated animal, there is a delay because the skin is less elastic. Pets who are chronically dehydrated may have a dry, flaky hair coat that lacks luster.

Ensuring that pets are well-hydrated is important not just during Pet Hydration month, but throughout their entire lives!


Dr. Budinich is a veterinarian at PAWS, which offers low-cost spay/neuter and basic veterinary care to pet owners and rescue organizations that cannot otherwise access or afford care. PAWS’ clinics enable struggling pet owners to keep their pets as part of their families, rather than surrendering them to shelters. Reducing the number of animals that face homelessness is part of PAWS’ overall mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every healthy and treatable pet is guaranteed a home. For more information or to adopt, foster, donate, or volunteer, please visit


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Asset Management Program Helps us Invest in Water Infrastructure


By Aqua President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Franklin

Chris Franklin spoke to industry experts who visited Philadelphia from around the world at the recent American Water Works Association annual conference. Here’s a synopsis of what he shared during his panel.

Aqua works every day across our eight states to deliver safe drinking water to customers, and to return wastewater responsibly to the environment. But as the nation’s water infrastructure ages, there is a greater need for significant investment in rebuilding or replacing the systems that deliver and store water and wastewater. As a best practice, Aqua constantly repairs and replaces old, outdated facilities, water main, water and wastewater plants, and well stations across service territories.

To help face the challenges of repairing and replacing infrastructure on a large scale, Aqua began developing a formal, enterprise-wide asset management program. Aqua’s asset management program tracks assets based on risk  and ensures that the appropriate proactive maintenance, repairs and upgrades occur based on those risk scores.  Aqua is developing plans across a variety of assets including wells, water distribution systems, wastewater facilities, wastewater collection systems and surface water treatment plants. Having a robust asset management program in place ensures that all systems remain in good working order, can improve response to emergencies and helps meet customer expectations for good service. 


Aqua based the company-wide program on the U.S. EPA Asset Management Framework, which is widely used by water and wastewater utilities. This framework asks:

·   What is the current state of the assets?

·   What is the required sustainable level of service?

·   Which assets are critical to sustained performance?

·   What are the minimum life-cycle costs?

·   What is the best long-term funding strategy?

By developing the program with the EPA’s guidance, Aqua is able to extend the life of assets and make more informed decisions about maintenance, repair or replacement. Aqua Pennsylvania has successfully used this framework for more than 20 years and continues to see improvements in its infrastructure improvement efforts, thanks to the employees who contribute every day to our asset management program. Over the last 10 years, Aqua Pennsylvania has averaged 128 miles of water main replacements per year, and over that time, we’ve seen customer complaints about water quality significantly decrease. There’s a clear connection there. And we’ve got plans to invest $292 million in replacements, improvements, and a significant water meter exchange program by the end of 2017. 

At Aqua, we see it as a great responsibility to replace aging infrastructure and deliver reliable drinking water and wastewater services to our customers. We will continue to build valuable internal processes like asset management that allow us to continue our mission to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource.

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