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.”

Share This Post:

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.

 

Share This Post:

Celebrating 4 Decades of Clean Water

Running water is something most Americans take for granted. As soon as we wake up, we’re taking showers, flushing the toilet and making coffee with it. Throughout the day we assume it’ll be there for our immediate use, and that it’ll be clean and fresh.

Shockingly, it wasn’t always like this. Water pollution became part of the norm decades ago, until a decision was reached to make a change that would benefit our country years to come. Today we celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a law that laid the groundwork in protecting the integrity of water.

 In the mid 20th century, water pollution was at an all time high. Clean sources of water were becoming a rarity. The trash-filled waters would cause odors that would fill towns. Rivers would catch on fire because of their contamination. It became no secret that extreme measures had to be taken to secure healthy water sources for our future.

On October 18, 1972, the controversial CWA was passed. The mission of the act was clear and simple: To restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters.

  • Forty-two years later, we can see the immense amount of progress made as a direct result of the CWA:
  • Point source pollution, i.e. pollution that can easily be traced back to its source, has decreased drastically.
  • The quality of our nation’s water has greatly improved, making clean water more accessible.
  • Wetlands and rivers have bounced back to health.

The law was a catalyst to the improvement of water that our country needed. Today, we urge you to celebrate the anniversary of the CWA by continuing the trend of protecting our nation’s water. To learn more about how the CWA affects you, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s overview.

Share This Post:

Get To Know Aqua: Area Manager Melissa Kahoun

1. My name is…Melissa Kahoun         

2. When I was a kid, my nickname was…Shasha – this is how my youngest sister ended up pronouncing Melissa

3. My title is...Area Manager

4. That means I (do what?)…I have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Aqua’s water and wastewater assets in the Kankakee and Will County Divisions. 

5. If I had to pick 3 words to describe myself, they’d be…Dedicated, Empathetic, Honest

6. Favorite weekend activity: Biking (mountain or road biking)

7. Since I started working at Aqua, the most fun I experienced was…Attending a Kankakee Community College sustainability expo.  Aqua had a source water protection booth setup and I was explaining why macro-invertebrates are so important to the river to a little girl and before she left with her dad, she ran up to me and gave me a great big hug – made my heart melt!

8. I love water, because…without it I would not exist!

9. The most interesting thing I’ve crossed off my “Bucket List” is…Running a half marathon – not because I completed one but because my doctor told me my body and running don’t agree with one another.  I came close though…. 

10. In the summer, you can find me...In the woods (camping, biking, hiking)

11. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be...A veterinarian.  My dream job would be running an animal rescue facility.

12. Do you have any pets? I have a cat named Little Kitty 

13. If I could be one movie character, I would be...because...Laura Croft because in the movie Tomb Raider she was an extremely intelligent woman and tough as nails.  Two incredibly awesome traits.

14. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on…Gerard Butler

15. If I weren’t working at Aqua, I would be…Probably married to Gerard Butler!

Share This Post:

The History of Water Infrastructure

It simmers and steams and doesn’t boil when watched.

It fills up bathtubs to the brim, sloshing back and forth.

It finds itself accompanying your nightly dinner in a glass filled with ice.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of water in our everyday lives; we need it and we thrive upon it. But it’s even easier to forget the leaps and bounds necessary to get it in your faucet today. It wasn’t always this simple. Here’s a brief timeline of how water become accessible to you:

 

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that simple, but those are some pretty key events that built the water infrastructure needed for the way we use water today. Here’s some more information about those milestones.

Ancient Rome:

Rome wasn’t built in a day, which meant innovation for even the most basic of necessities could take a staggering amount of time. Technology seemed to move a little faster once the first aqueducts were built to transport water. This step in early innovation that culminated in Early Rome soon took off throughout Europe. It was the most advanced plumbing system of its day.

 

Enlightenment Era:

After a more advanced plumbing system was introduced during the Enlightenment Era, it became a priority to provide sanitary water to the increasing population. Shortly after, it was necessary to bring in private water companies to account for the overwhelming amount of people. Water filtration was in its early experimental stages and used sand filters to take care of sanitation.

1900’s:

However, in the early 1900’s, filters were no longer used after a faulty mishap, which caused a disease outbreak. Instead, chlorination became the new way to provide clean water. While the process has been tweaked throughout history, it remains to be the fundamental way we purify water as of today. 

Today:

Other techniques such as water fluoridation and desalination are also used in certain areas of the world to provide safer water. Laws surrounding water began to pick up speed as the need for regulation became imperative. In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed, placing an emphasis on the quality of the water that is consumed, and it’s still enforced today.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to continue the trend to healthier and safer water. The Ancient Romans knew this and were able to overcome many logistical boundaries. But, there is still more to be done in both conservation and availability. The infrastructure of water is rapidly changing and progressing, which is integral when it comes to nurturing one of our most valuable natural resources.

Share This Post: