Defining Aqua’s core values


By Aqua President and CEO Chris Franklin

At Aqua, we are on a mission to protect and provide earth’s most essential resource. We provide 85 billion gallons of water to more than 3 million people each year, and we then return it to our rivers and streams using the highest environmental standards. Our company’s employees understand the importance of the services we provide, and the great responsibility that accompanies our work.

As a company, we are guided by three main pillars: our mission, our vision and our core values. Last year, we set out on a process to better define our core values, the principles that embody the character of our company and inspire our work together. These values are inherently embedded within our business practices and our behavior so I looked at this as a discovery quest.

We used an extremely inclusive process to determine these tenets. Guided by Aqua’s mission and vision, our Aqua Ambassador employee engagement team worked with members of the company to understand the key concepts that are most highly valued by employees. We then distilled the concepts into an employee survey in which our staff described the Aqua culture, told us what was important to them in their personal and work lives and shared the values that they believe guide our company.

I was honestly impressed with what we uncovered through this enlightening process, and am proud of the core values that we have developed to help guide our work in a more formal way. They are: integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence to be the best we can be for our customers, shareholders and communities.


“Integrity” and “honesty” are words that were repeated by employees to describe both themselves and how they view Aqua. Our team views integrity as being honest and transparent with coworkers, customers, and shareholders. It means being careful and trustworthy to those in both their work and personal lives and displaying good character through thoughtful actions and decisions. This focus on integrity helps us to provide the best possible customer experience, day in and day out, and helps to promote a positive work environment at Aqua.


Given the nature of our business, respect is embedded into so much that we do. Our employees show this respect by being committed to one another; by respecting the work-life balance that all employees deserve; by showing our customers excellent service and committing to the communities we serve by protecting the environment and earth’s water supply through infrastructure investments, community outreach and sustainable business practices. 

Pursuit of Excellence

As employees and as a company, our pursuit of excellence is unyielding. Our employees grow as professionals to continually meet the tremendous responsibility of providing water to our communities, and we demonstrate the highest level of care with each customer by always being knowledgeable and by treating them with a level of service that we would provide to one of our own family members. As a company, we make safety a priority by properly training and providing tools to employees to make sure that they are aware of risks, working responsibly and following safe practices. And finally, we all work together to reach Aqua’s responsible and strategic growth objectives and demonstrate our commitment to shareholder value.

By safeguarding these core values of integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence, Aqua continues to make important contributions to each community we serve. We do this each day when we ensure public safety through our commitment to firefighters; when we help communities become attractive for economic development and job growth; when we protect our watersheds, lakes and streams; and when we provide necessary infrastructure for clean, safe drinking water.

I am grateful for the many Aqua employees who helped us to define these core values, and I enjoy working side by side with them each day to make sure we are living these values to the benefit of each other, our customers, our shareholders and the communities we serve. 


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I’m proud of the positive impacts Aqua Ohio infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects have on Mahoning Valley communities


By Aqua Ohio President Ed Kolodziej

After more than a hundred years serving Mahoning Valley residents with safe, reliable water, Aqua Ohio is more committed than ever to the area. We marked the end of our 2017 construction season by announcing our completion of $10.3 million in improvements. These spanned across Mahoning Valley’s water distribution system and water treatment plant and included adding a new operations center that will open later this month. All of these projects were done in an effort to strengthen the region’s infrastructure, now and for the future.

And the work doesn’t stop there. Our area manager responsible for this region, Jennifer Johnson, is not only focused on completing these projects, but also in proactive maintenance, customer care and future endeavors.

Jennifer says that water systems need continual maintenance and replacement to assure reliable service. She shares that she’s proud to be part of a team that is investing the resources necessary to help keep uninterrupted water service flowing to our customers, and I’m proud she’s on our team.

For 2018, Aqua Ohio has planned for a total of $30 million to be invested throughout northeast Ohio. Of that, Jennifer and her team will be doing at least $13 million of improvements just in our Struthers system alone. This is in addition to the work completed this year.


Specifically, this spring, Aqua broke ground on a new operations center in the CASTLO industrial park in downtown Struthers. Operations personnel will be moved later this month to the 14,300 square-foot building, which includes enough space to enable us to welcome future customers to our family. The office will serve customers in Struthers, Poland, Lowellville and New Middletown, and the townships of Beaver, Boardman, Canfield, Coitsville, Poland and Springfield.

Currently, Aqua provides water to approximately 300,000 Buckeyes in northeast Ohio and 500,000 statewide. We have unmatched expertise in water and wastewater utilities, which continues to allow us to serve residents and communities throughout the valley. I take pride in the way our company is setting an example for water system management in the area, and how we protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource. 





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Make a Memorable Menorah with DIY Hanukkah Candles


Hanukkah is a time to be surrounded by your friends and family, and what better way to appreciate those loved ones than by working together on a fun project to spread the holiday joy?

These floating wick DIY Hanukkah Candles look beautiful and add a twist to your typical menorah or festive candle display. You can’t go wrong with this simple way to get creative and have fun.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • Blue food coloring
  • 8 small glass cups
  • Floating wicks
  • Spoon

What To Do:

  1. Place all eight cups on a menorah stand or a festive tray of your choosing.
  2. Place a few drops of blue food coloring into the water in a separate dish and stir until the color is even throughout the water. (Note: For extra flair, you can separate your water into the cups first and then add different shades of blue to each cup.
  3. Fill each cup ¾ of the way full with the tinted water.)
  4. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to each cup.
  5. Carefully place one floating wick in each cup without getting the wick wet.
  6. Your display is finished and ready to be lit!

In only six easy steps, you now have a unique candle display to use for Hanukkah celebrations or to use throughout the entire holiday season. 

We hope working together on this DIY candle display is just one of many ways you and your loved ones get to spend time together over the holidays.

Our entire Aqua family sends you and yours our warmest wishes for a happy and healthy Hanukkah. As always, don’t forget to stay tuned for more fun and easy ways to celebrate the holidays using Earth’s most essential resource—water!

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Water Infrastructure Leads America to a Crossroads In Protecting Our Most Essential Resource

By Marc Lucca, Aqua Pennsylvania President

America is at a crossroads for protecting our most essential resource: water.

The state of the U.S. water infrastructure system was a conversation long overdue, but it took the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, to bring the issue to the forefront. Now, municipalities around the country are grappling with the question of how best to pay for water infrastructure upgrades necessary to replace aging infrastructure and to meet ever-changing regulations. More regulations are likely to come after the Flint crisis. A recent New York Times article noted that the more than 1 million miles of pipes that make up our country’s water and sewer systems will reach an average age of 45 years by 2020. Our cities and towns already are financially strapped. Can we expect them to resolve water infrastructure and regulatory compliance problems before it’s too late and another crisis hits?

Aqua doesn’t think so, and we certainly don’t want to wait around to see what will happen. We need to move to protect our customers.

U.S. water infrastructure is a looming crisis

A Brookings Institution study from 2016 found that 88 percent of Americans believe action needs to be taken to solve the U.S. water infrastructure problem. Yet only 17 percent of utilities are confident they can cover the cost of current services through rates and fees — let alone considering the cost of upgrades.

And upgrades are desperately needed. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reported that leaking pipes cause us to lose more than 6 billion gallons of treated drinking water each day. The ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card noted that 240,000 water main breaks occur each year and that a $1 trillion investment is needed to maintain and expand service for increasing demands over the next 25 years. These facts caused the ASCE to give America’s drinking water infrastructure a D grade.

We don’t have much time to solve our water infrastructure issues, and each day that we waste is more money that will have to be invested to solve the problem.

Can cities, towns and authorities afford the $1 trillion investment needed to fix drinking water infrastructure issues? It doesn’t seem feasible without forcing these entities to make tough choices, such as tax increases, rate increases and cuts in other services.

Utilities follow rigorous treatment standards

Infrastructure is only one issue facing cities, towns and authorities. Many struggle to meet the standards required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) due to the resources required.

The SWDA sets national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against all naturally occurring and manmade contaminants, and these treatment standards required by the SWDA are increasingly stringent. To comply with standards and regulations, utilities must conduct assessments of water sources to see where they could be vulnerable to contamination, comply with the EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulations and monitor the presence of contaminants, among other requirements.

To ensure compliance with the SWDA and EPA standards and regulations, utilities need dedicated, highly technical resources for treatment design and day-to-day operations. These resources require significant, continual levels of investment, which many cities, towns and authorities cannot afford.

A 2012 analysis of EPA records by American Water Intelligence showed that the largest water companies have “near perfect” records in delivering water compliant with the SWDA. By comparison, the analysis noted that most of the violations from 2007 to 2012 were issued to public enterprises.

How Aqua can help

There’s a simple reason that regulated utility companies, like Aqua, are better at handling your drinking water. At Aqua, it’s all we do.

Aqua has the capabilities and resources to upgrade U.S. water infrastructure systems for current and future needs. Most of the communities served by municipalities or authorities have clean water today, but can they guarantee the same in the future without substantial investment they can’t afford or the technical resources to execute the required capital projects?

Everyone deserves dependable, safe drinking water, and the only way to provide it is with a solid water infrastructure.

We’re interested in your thoughts and reactions. Chat with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Aqua Gives Back with United Way

Volunteering is a key part of what makes Aqua employees who we are.

Recently, to get a head start on the season of giving, we partnered with United Way to embark on a company-wide charitable giving campaign.

United Way is an organization dedicated to advocating for the “health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.” Some Aqua employees have been involved with the United Way in the past, and that, partnered with their mission, made for the perfect organization for us to come together to create a campaign that would encourage employee teamwork and simultaneously help so many members of the communities across all eight of our states. 

“Aqua has had a long partnership with United Way for more than 30 years,” said Karen Carlson, our director of community affairs & corporate giving, who helped to execute the campaign. “Our CEO Chris Franklin wanted to have a centralized, company-wide employee campaign. He chaired the campaign this year and our CFO Dave Smeltzer will chair it next year.” 

This was our first time running a company-wide charitable initiative, and we were thrilled to see that our employees were eager to participate. Aqua employees across all eight states were split into two teams, the Aqua Avengers and the Water Warriors, and competed for the highest percentage of participation in giving to United Way. The winning team received an additional personal day off for 2018.

All in all, we raised $147,000 for United Way with the help of our outstanding employees. We’re so grateful for the generosity, time and effort that they put into making the campaign such a success. 

“It was a great team effort, and it provided an opportunity to better get to know our coworkers across Aqua’s eight states. Everyone pitched in and had great ideas,” Carlson said. “Many Aqua locations donated to the United Way in years past, but this was the first time we did so as a united front.”

We can’t wait to continue engaging our employees in meaningful community impact projects. Stay tuned to see where we make a difference next!

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