Drink Up: Here’s to Spring!

After a long winter of snow, sleet, rain and polar vortexes, we bid adieu to the winter of 2013-14 by raising a glass of iced cold tap water during Drinking Water Week. The winter weather wreaked havoc on much of the country and did a number on water mains across the country too. But thanks to Aqua’s commitment to infrastructure renewal and putting miles of new water mains in the ground, we’ve had fewer main breaks than in the past thanks. Get a taste of what it was like on the front lines with a breakdown of Aqua’s fight against winter weather in Southeastern PA: 

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Aqua Delivers New, Clean Water Supply to Families in Wake Forest

Aqua North Carolina turned on the tap last year to provide clean drinking water to two dozen homes in a Wake Forest neighborhood where homeowners’ private wells were found to be contaminated by solvents. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached out to Aqua to connect these homes to our public drinking water supply, and we expect to connect additional homes. 

In 2005, a homeowner’s private well was first identified as having been contaminated with a volatile organic compound (VOC) called TCE. Since then, additional private wells in the area were found to have been contaminated. Federal and state environmental officials believe two former circuit board assembly companies are the source of the contamination.

Aqua is proud that we could help these families get water that is regularly tested and complies with state and federal health standards. This situation underscores the benefits to customers of public water systems like Aqua’s. Unlike private well owners, Aqua must adhere to federal and state laws that require consistent and frequent tests for contaminants.

Aqua has been providing water and wastewater utility service in North Carolina for more than 30 years and serves about 84,000 homes in 52 counties.

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7 Tips to Make Your Neighbors Green With Envy

These water-conservation tips help create beautiful, eco-friendly gardens. Follow the list, save water, show up your neighbors.  

1. Locals know best. Just ask the plants.

 

Help your garden go back to its roots. In their eons of existence, native plants have cultivated an entire heritage. They fought the fight, adapted to the climate, and victoriously flourished—essentially, they know the land better than any other plants. Visit your nearby cooperative extension or botanical garden to research species! 

 

2. You cut grass. Grass cuts mulch costs. Mulch cuts water-loss.

With stuffed nose and balled fist, you may have cursed a pile of no-good grass clippings. But if used right, all that fresh-cut grass serves as a productive citizen of your yard. Spread mowed grass and ground-up leaves in flower and vegetable gardens for a free mulch supplement. 

 

3. Sorry James, imagination won’t get you your giant peach.

 

Now is the team to start watering your trees! If you want plump fruits, be sure to provide adequate soil moisture during April and May. 

 

4. Keep your plants social drinkers.

Some flowers enjoy the occasional sip of H20. Plant them far way in a “natural zone” where they can survive on rainfall. Others guzzle water down like a frat boys. Keep the thirsty guys together. Near the house, they can drink roof runoff. Think of it as Greek row, only the red cups contain water.

 

5. Do donuts. 

 

No, not in the grocery parking lot at 2 a.m., reliving your Jack-and-Diane days. Tending to shrubbery is a much safer, greener, and socially acceptable mid-life crisis. Form donut-shaped soil berms around young trees and shrubs. Then fill it up with water. The donut will let the roots absorb water slowly, a must for adolescent trees. 

 

6. April ______ bring May flowers. 

Something might be missing from the old nursery rhyme. We associate spring with rain, but don’t be an April fool—as the weather warms up and the days grow longer, you still should water your plants

 

7. Xeriscaping saves up to 80% of water.

 

Xeriscape” rolls off the tongue and flows like the water it saves. The water-conscious gardening technique can decrease consumption by 150 gallons a day. Avoid any water loss, use drought-tolerant plants and design gardens according to your location (see #1).

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Let’s Get Social Raffle Winners

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the announcement of the Lets Get Social raffle! We’d like to thank all of our customers for participating in the raffle, reading your bill inserts and helping to build our Facebook community and Twitter following during our first sweepstakes campaign. And now … the winners of three brand spankin’ new iPad Airs:

Congratulations to our winners:

Vikki R. from Bourbonnais, IL 

Noreen L. from Shamokin, PA

Lauren S. from Malvern, PA 

Even if you didn’t win, you’ve still technically won because now that you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, you have even more options to get your customer service questions answered and learn about the most essential elements on the planet, water. So while you’re here, feel free to poke around and read a few blog posts to see what our extraordinary employees are up to, how we’re serving community or how we’re evolving to better serve our customers.

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Driving Sustainability: How Compressed Natural Gas Can Fuel a Cleaner Future

I believe our commitment to sustainability is critical across all sectors. We can all help build the foundation for a sustainable future.

- Nicholas DeBenedictis, Chairman, President and CEO of Aqua America in a commentary titled “Driving Sustainability: How Compressed Natural Gas Can Fuel a Cleaner Future published* in the spring issue of Energy & Infrastructure magazine 

Companies all across America are evaluating how to reduce their environmental impact as it becomes clearer that we all need to take action to protect our environment for future generations. For some, this might mean using recycled materials for packaging, developing safer materials, using alternative fuel sources or streamlining operations to reduce waste. Private utilities, such as water companies, are no exception.

Water and energy share a close relationship – every process of the water system requires energy from initial treatment, delivery through pipes, the transportation of resources, and service representatives to keep systems up-to-date and address problems. Weighing in at eight pounds per gallon, keeping America’s water systems flowing is no small feat.

At Aqua America, we are pursuing different avenues to do our part. For instance, we are investing in vehicles for our fleet that will run on clean-burning compressed natural gas(CNG). CNG fuel can replace gasoline and diesel fuel and produces less undesirable air emissions when used. It is safer than other fuels in the event of a spill, because natural gas is lighter than air and dispenses quickly when released. 

Supplementing the environmental benefits, CNG is credited with creating more than 88,000 jobs in Pennsylvania to date, enhancing air quality and lowering energy costs, all while generating more than $389 million in state and local tax revenue.

At Aqua, we led the charge to utilize this resource nearly two decades ago. Aqua purchased its first bi-fuel pick-up truck in 1997. Today, we continue to add new vehicles to our fleet and plan to have a full fleet of CNG-fueled vehicles within the next five years.

To prepare for our upcoming transition to a full CNG fleet, we built a time-fill station at Aqua’s Springfield, Pa., operations center last year and we are working to install time-fill in four additional nearby operations centers. You can learn more about how natural gas vehicles operate here.

We also announced last week the receipt of a $225,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Act 13 fund. The grant will fund the purchase of nine dump trucks that run off of CNG to add to our growing alternative energy fleet. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett awarded the grant as a part of $7.7 million in total funding given to 25 companies and organizations in the state for natural gas vehicle conversion.

In 2013, Aqua received an Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) of $86,812 from the DEP for the purchase of 14 new CNG-fueled vans. Aqua also received two grants for approximately $70,000 for infrastructure and plans to install private fueling stations at its West Chester and Willow Grove Operations Centers. To date, we have invested $675,000 in CNG through vehicle purchases and infrastructure upgrades, including the construction of slow-fill fueling stations.

Our new CNG vans will be used to serve water customers in the inspection of pipeline restoration. So if you see us driving around, give us a honk or a wave!

* Access the full commentary from Nick DeBenedictis in the Spring Issue of Energy & Infrastructure magazine

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