Aqua Illinois Donates to Local Career Development Initiative and Food Pantry

Aqua Illinois Kankakee Area Manager Melissa Kahoun recently presented a $1,000 check to the Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education (CHEE), a locally-based initiative with a mission to “prepare a college and career-ready workforce to meet employment needs in Kankakee County,” according to its website.

CHEE is a collaborative effort between the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County and the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley. Its role as a facilitator for “collaboration between industry and education” begins by working with local stakeholders, such as the Kankakee Community College, to “ensure industry’s needs for a workforce.”

Much of their work centers on reaching out to the community via job fairs and local events to educate students on STEM, career paths and hiring opportunities in the area. Aqua Illinois is one of many corporate sponsors supporting the effort.

“CHEE provides students a chance to learn and develop skills they may otherwise not be interested in focusing on,” Kahoun said. “It’s important that we, as a utility company, support these efforts and partner with an organization whose mission is to provide more knowledge and growth opportunities for students.”

In addition to Kankakee’s contributions, Illinois’ Northern Regional Supervisor Patrick Wren and Area Manager Joel Gehrett presented a check for $1,000 to Maine Township, a newly acquired system in Cook County. The donation went to the Maine Township Food Pantry, which “provides food on an emergency basis to persons living in the greater Maine Township area,” according to MaineTownship.com.

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Aqua Appoints Deborah Watkins As New Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance

Aqua has hired Deborah Watkins as its new Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance. Watkins replaces Colleen Arnold, who became the company’s deputy chief operating officer in September of last year.

Watkins comes to the company with more than 30 years of experience, most recently as senior project manager at O’Brien & Gere, an engineering firm with advanced manufacturing, energy, environmental, and water services.  She was responsible for identifying, developing, and managing initiatives involving water and wastewater treatment facility consultation, design, construction, and regulatory permitting. Prior to working for O’Brien & Gere, Watkins spent several years at Weston Solutions, Inc. where she began her career as a technical director of engineering.  She was promoted to vice president after successful development of the pharmaceutical industry practice and subsequent development of the upstream oil and gas practice in the company’s Mid-Atlantic division.

“We are pleased to have someone with Deborah’s experience and education lead our environmental compliance team at Aqua,” said Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer Mike Pickel, to whom Deborah will report.

Watkins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Bucknell University and a Master of Science degree in water resources and environmental engineering at Villanova University. She is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

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130 Years of Aqua America

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Celebrating 130 Years

This month, Aqua proudly celebrates our 130th anniversary.

It was in January 1886 that a group of professors from Swarthmore College first incorporated the Springfield Water Company—which would eventually grow into Aqua America—to serve residents of Springfield Township, Delaware County in Pennsylvania. Over the years, Aqua became one of the largest U.S.-based water and wastewater utilities in the nation, and today we provide essential water and wastewater services to more than 3 million people in eight states.

Although much has changed in the past 130 years, two things have not: the importance of water in sustaining life and Aqua’s role as its steward. As a part of Aqua’s anniversary celebration, we are excited to unveil an updated company mission to reflect that commitment:

 

Protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource.

It’s our hope that this new, succinct and impactful mission statement will serve as a source of pride and encouragement to our employees, and that it will resonate with our customers, who can be reminded of how seriously we take our role in the lifecycle of our world’s precious water supply.

To reach 130 years is a remarkable milestone for any company. As we reflect on Aqua’s great history and growth story, it’s clear that our success is a reflection of our strong foundation as a company committed to operating with integrity and transparency. It’s also clear that we wouldn’t be where we are today without:

 

·      Our employees, both past and present, whose hard work and dedication to their jobs has fueled our company for generations; and

 

·      Our customers, who motivate us to continue finding better ways to deliver safe, affordable water and wastewater services, while investing in infrastructure to ensure the long-term reliability of our products.

So today, we thank both our employees and our customers for their partnership, and for helping us to reach this exciting anniversary. Here’s to another 130 years of protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource, together. 

 

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Get to Know Aqua: Operations Support Coordinator Nancy McGee

As we celebrate our 130th Anniversary this year, we celebrate all of our dedicated employees that have made Aqua a great place to work. Operations Support Coordinator Nancy McGee will end her 43-year career with Aqua when she retires at the end of this month. Get to know one of Aqua's longest employees as she shares some of her final thoughts on her career and prepares for the next chapter in her life. Congrats and good luck, Nancy! 

 How long have you worked at Aqua?

43 years. I began my career in 1973 at Garden State Water Company

What was your first job?

Customer service representative

What positions have you held?

Currently I work as the operations support coordinator in New Jersey. Before that, I was a customer service manager for New Jersey and for New Hampshire, when we serviced that area. I was also a billing supervisor in our Bryn Mawr, PA offices.

Which was your favorite and why?

Although my titles have changed, my responsibilities have been about the same throughout. I enjoy that there is always something different every day. There is nothing negative about my job. Some people think that “customer service” is the call center, but the truth is that we’re all in customer service. We are all here to provide a service.

What led to your longevity at Aqua?

Focus. You have to be focused on what you’re doing. I like the challenges that come with the job. My job is not boring. I also like the fact that there’s never a line at the ladies’ room.

What are the most dramatic changes you’ve seen at the company during your 43 years here?

Technology has come a long way. Back in the day, employees relied heavily on direct phone contact to coordinate service between the field and the office. Today, we use digital information to update and document projects.

Have there been any changes in customer interaction or customer queries during your tenure?

Not really. The questions have not really changed because we’re providing the same service today as we did decades ago.

What did you most look forward to coming to work at Aqua?

The variety of challenges that I faced every day and being able to look forward to something different.

What are you looking forward to most about retiring?

I have yet to find out, but I’ll let you know!

Is there anything else you would like to share with Aqua employees before you retire?

Enjoy life.

 

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