Get the Lead Out with These Five Tips


October 22–28 is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and at Aqua, we’re committed to providing our customers with the most reliable and safe water service possible.

According to the EPA, many homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust. Sometimes, this contamination can spread to other parts of your home, including your water sources, which is why we want to arm you with knowledge and tips that can help prevent lead exposure.

Here are five actions you can take to decrease the possibility of potential lead exposure for you and your loved ones.

Use a filter that follows NSF standards.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has a consumer guide for homeowners that may be affected by lead poisoning that contains information about appropriate filters. Using a filter is also a good preventative measure for customers living in homes that were built before 1978 or that contain non-plastic plumbing installed before 1986.

Change the screen on your faucet regularly.

Regularly changing the screen (sometimes referred to as aerator) on your faucets can help reduce lead build-up and provide better water flow. For an easy how-to guide on replacing your aerator, click here.

 

(infographic courtesy of EPA)

Buy a home testing kit.

For as little as $20, you can test your water source for lead with a lead poisoning detection kit. If you’d rather leave it to the pros, call Aqua at 877.987.2782 to schedule a technician visit to your home for testing.

Replace your pipeline if it is made of lead.

Lead pipelines can be distinguished by scratching a section of pipe that is connected to your water meter. Scratch the section of the pipe with a coin; if the paint comes off easily and looks like the color of a nickel, it could be lead. If so, call a plumber to switch out your lead piping with another material.

 

(infographic courtesy of EPA)

Contact Aqua immediately if you suspect a possible contamination.

If you suspect a lead contamination in your water source, contact us at 877.987.2782 to schedule a time for a technician to visit to your home for testing. For more information about testing details, contact a customer service representative at the same number.

Taking the time to recognize the potential sources of lead will better equip you and your family to prevent exposure. We hope that these tips will educate and prepare you and your loved ones in the case of a lead poisoning emergency.

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5 Haunted House Decorations You Didn’t Know Were Made with Water

Haunted houses are always a fan-favorite Halloween pastime, and if you’ve ever been inside one, you know that they are full of intricate decorations and special effects.

We can’t help but appreciate all the art and craftsmanship that goes into creating these spooky attractions, especially when we know that many of the special effects that make haunted houses so terrifying are created with—you guessed it—water.

Read on to see our five favorite water-filled haunted house effects (and to learn how they work).

Fake Blood

While you may be thinking this spooky classic is nothing more than face paint or ketchup, it’s actually a water solution. One of the best ways to make fake blood is to use water, cornstarch, corn syrup, onion flakes and red food coloring.

Fog

The fog you see at haunted houses or in scary movies is actually made with dry ice. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, so when it changes states, it actually turns directly into a gas. All that’s needed is a large bucket or cauldron about a fourth of the way filled with hot, hot water. Once dry ice is deposited into the water, voila: you’ll start to see a thick, spooky fog. (Remember: Never handle dry ice with bare hands as it can damage your skin due to its extremely low temperatures.)

Witches Brew

Witches brew is essential for any haunted house. While the solution can be made with a number of odd ingredients, water brings it all together. Getting the perfect icky green witches brew is as simple as boiling up a pot of water, adding a drop or two of dish soap and pouring in some food coloring. Of course, you can always add some candy eyeballs or gummy worms to make the bubbly brew extra spooky.

Specimen Jars

Specimen jars are among the creepiest of haunted house decorations: they combine both odd little creatures and greenish liquids you’d imagine smell awful. In reality, though, specimen jars are just filled with water, a couple of drops of food coloring and small toy animals or doll parts.

Plus, specimen jars can become even creepier by turning them into a sensory experience. Adding foods like cold spaghetti and peeled grapes to a jar and asking haunted house visitors to close their eyes and stick their hands inside is sure to produce some shrieks.

Slime

 

Slime is a perfect haunted house decoration: It’s easy to make, fun to play with and slippery as can be. Though it may feel like it comes from the bottom of a snail or a big fish, slime is actually made with a simple mixture containing water. The mixture creates a medium between solid and liquid that makes for some great ghost sludge or monster ooze. The best part is that the slime can easily be cleaned up with warm water, too.

As you’re preparing for Halloween, read up on Halloween safety to get the most out of the big night of trick-or-treating, and if you want to make some treats of your own to share with friends and family, make sure to check out our recipe for DIY salt water taffy.

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Aqua and Villanova University teams return to Central America for water improvement projects

 

Volunteers from Aqua and Villanova University’s Engineering Service Learning Program students and faculty returned to Nicaragua and Panama last week, continuing their work to provide engineering resources and water infrastructure expertise for key water improvement projects in the two countries.

The group returned to Waslala, Nicaragua and Panama’s Wacuco region to provide hands-on water quality expertise and foundational support to improve water infrastructure. This partnership is part of Aqua’s “Ripple Effect,” the company’s continued commitment to making a positive impact on water, the environment and in communities. The last time the group traveled together was in August 2016.

Several  areas comprise the Ripple Effect including volunteering, Aqua’s Charitable Trust,  and knowledge sharing, according to Kimberly Joyce, vice president of regulatory, government and external affairs.

“Our partnership with Villanova University allows our employees to volunteer their time and expertise to help shape future engineers, while making a real difference for communities that need clean running water,” Joyce said.

Aqua Pennsylvania’s Jeff Bickel and Aqua Illinois’ Colton Janes went to assist VESL in Nicaragua to celebrate the culmination of last year’s capital project and assist in troubleshooting a non-functioning water well located near a Waslala school.

 

Janes was excited to work with Villanova students and provide his expertise.

“I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with Villanova students and taking on a mentor role,” said Janes prior to departure. “I think it’s going to be great to bounce ideas off of the students and find a solution together. Anytime we are able to give the essential resource of water to someone who has to work for it, or go through a hardship to maintain it, is a great opportunity for us – especially when we can help lead students looking to make a difference, as well.”

The goal of the Panama project is to provide guidance to students on  designing a water treatment solution for the existing system, which services 800 people and is expanding to add a school with 125 students. The team evaluated the system demand, water quality and yield of a newly installed shallow well. The end-state will be a solution that integrates the well into the existing system and provides safe water to the systems existing residents and to the new school.

“These projects help Aqua employees lend their knowledge, immerse themselves in a new culture and make a positive impact in the world,” Joyce said. “

You can click here to read the story about Aqua’s 2016 trip.

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Create a Fire Escape Plan With These Easy Steps


This year marks the 95th anniversary of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week. It's no secret that we care about safety here at Aqua, so it should come as no surprise we're also fans of fire prevention.

The safety of you and your family should always be a top priority, so in honor of the occasion, we want to help you create a fire escape plan (that you’ll hopefully never have to use). Follow these simple steps to ensure you’re prepared in the case of a fire—it’ll be more than worth your time in the long run.

Step 1: Draw a Map and Find Your Exits

 Whether at work or at home, it is essential to have a fire escape plan in mind. To better envision your plan, use a grid to draw out the rooms in your building or home and identify two exits in each room. You can click here to access a printable checklist and grid to help you draw out your fire escape plan. Click here for the grid and checklist in Spanish. 

Step 2: Make Sure Your Exits are Accessible

Not every room has two exit doors, which means that sometimes, your second exit will be a window. In the event of an actual fire, you don’t want to be held up clearing off your windowsill or struggling to open your window. Make sure you can easily execute your escape plan by opening paths to all exits and keeping window sills decluttered. If you live on the second floor or higher, you should consider keeping a fire escape ladder near your windows to ensure you can easily escape. 


Always locate two exits from every room in your home. (Image via NFPA)

Step 3: Choose an Outside Meeting Space Near Your Home

In the case of a fire, once you are outside of your home, you and your family will want a safe place to meet. Make sure everyone agrees on a meeting place with a clear identifier such as a tree, bush, stop sign or parking lot. The important thing is that the meeting place is a safe distance from your home and can be easily found. 

Step 4: Plan to Call 911

In the event of a real emergency, once you safely make it to the meeting place, call 911 to report the fire. (Do not call 911 if you are just practicing your escape plan—only call if there is a real emergency.) If you do not have a phone with you, ask to use a neighbor’s phone or locate a local business and ask to use theirs.

Step 5: Practice Your Plan 

Image via NFPA

Now that you have a preventative fire escape plan, it’s important to remember that the plan won’t do you much good if you can’t remember it in case of a real fire. That’s why it is important to practice your fire escape plan with your family twice a year.

We hope that this simple step-by-step tutorial will help you and your family create a fire escape plan. Since safety is always a priority at Aqua, we’d also like to thank the local fire departments who work tirelessly to keep our communities and neighbors safe across all eight of the states in which we operate.


Pictured above are some of the members of the Justin, Texas volunteer fire department. The department is made up of 25 volunteers who are dedicated to keeping the community safe. Aqua Texas was happy to donate and support them and their mission this past September. Thank you for your service, Justin Texas firefighters! 


Pictured here are Delaware County Councilman Dave White, District Attorney Jack Whelan, Delaware County Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce and Aqua Pennsylvania officials. We all gathered to celebrate our local fire departments on a nice day with the community. Thank you for your hard work, Pennsylvania firefighters!

If you are interested in learning more about Fire Prevention Week, visit the NFPA website

 

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Aqua employees demonstrate extraordinary dedication during Hurricane Harvey

 

By Aqua Texas President and Houston resident Bob Laughman

As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc throughout southeast Texas with catastrophic flooding, Aqua employees worked long hours in challenging conditions to maintain and restore service to our customers. 

Aqua serves about 76,000 people through 146 water systems throughout southeast Texas. Although we had standby generators ready to deploy after the hurricane hit, many systems remained powered and in full operation during Harvey. However, devastating flood conditions impeded employees from safely traveling to some communities to determine if water quality had been compromised by the storm. We issued a precautionary boil advisory to 121 systems and lifted these advisories as our operators confirmed the safety of each system’s water.

 

Area Manager Chris Garcia and his team delivered extraordinary service as they personally dealt with the horrendous flooding you saw on TV. They truly exemplify Aqua’s mission and core values, and I thank them for their commitment to the communities we serve.

Aqua employees Gary Douglas and Scott Verret distributing water in Beaumont.

As my employees worked tirelessly to restore service for our own customers in southeast Texas, they also reached out to help other communities who needed it. The City of Beaumont lost its water supply for nearly 120,000 people as a result of the storm. On September 1 — after driving more than 500 miles from our Fort Worth and Palestine offices through Louisiana and along coastal roads to avoid flooded areas — Aqua employees Gary Douglas, Scott Verret, J.Don Dewveall, Tim Goforth, Ben Clark and Nathan Sweeney arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers. The crew provided bulk clean water to a mobile hospital unit, three churches, local residents and a ship — the Liberty Peace — that could not leave the harbor without clean drinking water. Our tankers also provided an invaluable clean water supply to the Jefferson County emergency operations center, the main center that coordinated regional disaster rescue and response.

 

Aqua delivered water to various locations including a court house and mobile hospital unit.

Mike Kirkpatrick, Jefferson County emergency management coordinator, conveyed his and the community’s deep appreciation for everything that Aqua Texas did on their behalf. Kirkpatrick said Aqua Texas was the reason the emergency operations center was able to stay open during the worst of the crisis. 

I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to my co-workers throughout Texas and our Aqua America family nationwide for their inspiring teamwork and extraordinary efforts to serve our customers throughout the hurricane and its aftermath.

Nathan Sweeney and Ben Clark were among the Aqua employees who arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers. 

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