The Groundwork for a Better Tomorrow

When Aqua says we’re laying the groundwork for a better tomorrow, we’re usually talking about building the pipes, treatment plants, and other infrastructure that clean and deliver drinking water to families — and carry away and clean up their wastewater. 

Of course, before a family can turn on the tap, they need a home. Aqua’s Austin-based Brent Reeh and Troy Bolin joined about a dozen or so volunteers with Habitat for Humanity on Feb. 1 to help build a new home for a family in North Woodcreek in the Texas Hill Country. Reeh and Bolin spent the day mostly painting the interior of the house.

Whether we’re laying pipe or rolling a second coat of paint, we’re proud to build a better tomorrow for the communities we serve.

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House Hunters Aqua Edition

On a residential street in an Illinois community, you’ll find a house where no real estate agent will take you. The light beige house on a landscaped yard is home to a filter system that removes naturally occurring iron from the well water that serves thousands of people. 

The house blends into the well-kept neighborhood, providing an attractive alternative to an industrial building. Aqua operator Jennifer Murphy remembers driving a surprised environmental regulator up to the house for a plant visit. The local waste removal service dropped off a recycling bin, and a roofer once left his card. Jennifer notes that Aqua is a good neighbor. Suggestions that the house could use a little sprucing up prompted us to power wash the siding last year. Flowering pear trees planted some years ago now dot the front yard. At Aqua, we don’t just provide our neighbors with clean drinking water, we keep up with them!

 

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Polar Vortex, Polar Shmortex - Let's Go For A Swim!

You might not be surprised to learn that Aqua employees know a thing or two about plungers, but only a hardy few might take the plunge into a frozen lake. Aqua Virginia Operations Manager Tim Castillo and Area Manager Luther Ghorley dove into that challenge on Feb. 1st at the eighth annual Polar Bear Plunge in the Lake Land’Or community near Fredericksburg in central Virginia. Sponsored by the Wright's Chapel United Methodist Church in Ladysmith since 2006, the plunge raises money for programs like emergency heating assistance and food pantries that help families in need. Wright’s Chapel Pastor Charles Tillapaugh said that the event has grown to include other churches and community organizations, and the plunge raised about $19,500 this year.


 

The frosty lake temperature of 32 degrees required organizers to break the ice for about 50 swimmers, some in costume, including Castillo, who dressed as Aquaman. After the plunge, a few hundred residents enjoyed bonfires and a chili cook-off, and Aqua’s Dale Stewart served s’mores.

Castillo’s Aquaman emerged from the pack as best male costume.

Ghorley noted that the lake’s sharp ice blocks made the plunge a little painful — though bearable, and both men welcomed the opportunity to do good while having fun. “Aqua delivers essential services to families, and it’s important to us to contribute to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Castillo.

Aqua provides drinking water and wastewater service to about 4,500 people in Lake Land’or.

 

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Get WaterSmart!

We’re very excited to show off Aqua WaterSmart, an interactive program to help consumers conserve water in their homes and learn about the water treatment process. The new program is available on the home page of the Aqua America website.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the U.S. population has doubled over the last 30 years and the demand for drinking water has tripled during this time,” said Aqua Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis. “Further, more than half of our country is facing water shortages. At Aqua, we recognize the importance of proactive conservation to protect this important resource and remain committed to bringing clean, safe drinking water to our customers for the cost of about a penny a gallon.” 

The interactive program is an illustration of a home, with clickable elements in each room that provide water conservation tips for everyday activities, such as cleaning, gardening and personal care. The program is available as a mobile web app on tablets and smartphones, and accessible on most web browsers for desktops and laptops.  

The program also focuses on education about how water travels from a source to the tap, with downloadable infographics that explain the processes to treat surface water, groundwater, and wastewater. “Most people turn on their tap water every day without realizing how source water is treated and then delivered to their home,” said Karl Kyriss, executive vice president, who oversees Aqua’s information technology department. “We created this resource to help educate consumers about the entire process, which further supports our focus on conservation. By conserving water use in day-to-day activities, we save water and energy, reducing our total environmental impact.

By working together to save water in small ways throughout our home and daily routines, we can make a big impact and help save water,” added DeBenedictis.

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Bill Wills: Soaring to New Heights

Bill Wills received flight lessons as a birthday present from his wife in 2006. From then on, learning how to fly an airplane became his goal, and he reached it in 2007, when he earned his pilot’s license.

To get there, he studied for more than 60 hours, had guided flight lessons and passed a final test. A key step was showing that he could smoothly lift off and land his pane on the runway alone.

“The first thing you have to learn is to do things in small increments,” he said.­­­­­

After his first solo flight, his flight instructor ceremoniously cut his T-shirt with scissors, which is a tradition among pilots. 

Cutting a student’s shirt after his or her first solo flight symbolizes their growth as a pilot – and the fact that they no longer need an instructor yanking on their shirt and shouting instructions from the back seat.The practice dates back to the days of aviation before radio systems, according to pilot and aviation writer Rod Machado. Flight instructors would sit behind their students and get their attention by yanking their T-shirts.

Wills owns his own single-engine aircraft now: a 1946, American-manufactured Cessna 140. Cessna produced approx 10,000 of the 140s after World War II, with only about 2,000 still flying today.

Wills houses his Cessna 140 at a hangar in Kennett Square, Pa., close to where he lives. It takes him 30 minutes to fly to Ocean City, N.J., high above the bottleneck traffic. And from there, it’s a five-block walk to the beach. He also enjoys flying to Myrtle Beach and the Chesapeake Bay.

“There’s nothing like waking up at five in the morning, driving out when there’s no traffic, and flying,” he said.

Wills flies to plane-enthusiast events and wants to one-day fly to Europe to attend gatherings for Cessna owners. “I just like the freedom, the challenges, and the people you meet,” Wills said of going to these events.

“I want to expand myself, become a better person and experience things firsthand,” Wills said. “Life experiences make you the person you are.”’

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Wills joined Aqua in April 2011 and is the Information Technology  Director of Business System Support. He previously worked for 17 years as a senior manager for information services and marketing at Wawa, a chain of convenience stores. Wawa and Aqua are similar Wills said, in that they are both people-oriented businesses and leaders in their respective industries.

Wills has a PMP certification and master’s certificate from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Widener University. Midway through his career at Wawa, he began to manage the company’s marketing and branding. Providing both technological support and marketing strategy taught him how those two business components could be merged.

“To be successful in any organization you have to communicate well build strong relationships and get a full understanding of the business,’ he said.

More Information:

Cessna Pilots Society 

Wawa Markets

Rod Machado’s Aviation Blog

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