National Preparedness Month highlights the importance of being ‘ready’

By Aqua's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fox

National Preparedness Month may now be over, but hurricane season is not. As we have unfortunately seen over the past month, all it takes is one storm to cause immeasurable damage to our communities. While Aqua does everything in its power to prevent the loss of service during a storm, heavy rains may cause groundwater wells and treatment plants to flood, and pressure losses from broken water lines and power outages can increase the risk of water contamination.

Customers can take important steps to prepare in advance of devastating weather events and other natural disasters. In recognition of National Preparedness Month, Aqua joined with the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign to provide important water tips to prepare for such an emergency.

Determine water needs.The Ready Campaign recommends storing at least one gallon of water per person for three days, for drinking and sanitation. Keep in mind the following:

  • The average person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily from water and other beverages.
  • Children, nursing mothers and anyone who is ill may need additional water.
  • For those living in a warm weather climate, more water may be necessary; in hot temperatures, water needs can double. 

Store water in advance. Water is a valuable resource and will be needed for multiple uses if an emergency situation occurs. Customers can also prepare their own containers of water for use during an outage ahead of time, using the following tips:

  • Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
  • Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water.
  • Tightly close the container using the original cap; do not contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place the date on the container, as water must be replaced every six months. Store in a cool, dark place.

 

Shut off water connection to home. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cracked water lines may pollute the water supply to houses. Prior to evacuation or if there are reports of broken water or sewage lines, water connections to homes should be shut off until your water utility says it is safe for drinking. Shutting off the valve may help to reduce or prevent water contamination and provide an extra source of water in an emergency situation by providing access to water that was already in the pipes. Follow these tips to shut off water to a home:

  • Well before inclement weather arrives, take the time to locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters the house. Label this valve with a tag for easy identification during an emergency and make sure all household members know where it is located.
  • Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. The valve may be rusted open or it may only partially close. If so, replace it.
  • To use the water in your pipes after shutting off the valve, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.

 

Properly disinfect water. Customers can also ensure water is properly treated before drinking it by doing the following:

  • Boiling is the safest method of disinfecting water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Oxygen can be added back into the water by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers. This will improve the taste of stored water.
  • Chlorination can also be used to treat water. To disinfect water, use regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite, and do not use bleaches that are scented, color safe, or have added cleaners. Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water doesn’t have a slight bleach odor to it, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 more minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
  • Distillation can remove germs that resist boiling and chlorination treatment methods. To distill water, fill a pot half way with water and tie a cup to the handle so that the cup is inside of the pot’s lid, facing upward when the lid is on the pot. Boil the water for 20 minutes –the water that drips into the cup is distilled.

 

Stay alert. After a storm, Aqua will alert customers if they are under a precautionary boil water advisory. Methods of communication may include phone, text, email, door hangers, signage, radio, newspapers and/or television news broadcasts. Aqua will also provide an update when boil advisories are lifted. Customers can also check the status of a precautionary boil water advisory, outages and other alerts anytime by visiting AquaAmerica.com or by calling Aqua customer service toll-free at 877.987.2782.

Dealing with a natural disaster is never an easy task, as the nature of emergencies can be so unpredictable. Ensuring enough access to clean, drinkable water during an emergency should be a key element to any preparation plan.

 

 

Share This Post:

Building a culture of inclusion at Aqua

By Aqua Talent Acquisition and Diversity Lead Satnaree Brandon

“Excuse me, miss, do you work at Aqua?” said a voice breaking me from the trance of my iPhone while commuting on the regional rail one morning.

“Yes, I do. Can I help you?” I asked, unsure if I was about to speak to a customer.

“You spoke to my son at a job fair two months ago. I can’t express how much it meant to me that you spent time with him asking him questions about his resume, coaching and engaging him in conversation,” she said

I braced myself for a long conversation with a doting mother, then I quickly remembered speaking with the woman and her son, who happened to be visually impaired, two months before. I handed them both my business card, which includes braille text, and encouraged her son to follow up with me if he was interested in applying for a job.

As the diversity lead at Aqua America, part of my job is to help pave our way as an employer of choice that values diversity and inclusion in the utility industry, which is not necessarily known for this. Speaking to a person who is visually impaired at a job fair might not seem significant, but I had conveyed to this young man and his mother that Aqua is a welcoming place to work, we are inclusive, and we place great value on you as an individual.

In traditional terms, growing a diverse workforce means that Aqua seeks to hire and promote a variety of people, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identification, sexual orientation, age, background or ability. But beyond building a diverse company, Aqua is looking to be an inclusive company, with a supportive and respectful environment where all employees can achieve their full potential.

Regardless of color or creed, it is human nature to seek out an inclusive workplace. Fair treatment, equal access to opportunity and feeling welcomed as a teammate who belongs there help to build a happy and engaged group of employees. When we talk about inclusion, we are talking about how we make the mix of differences come together and have meaning, with the ultimate goal to provide everyone a seat at the table.

Aqua understands that building a culture of inclusion requires representation of diversity at all levels of the organization, and Aqua’s approach has been to build this from the top down. While 20 percent of our leadership at the vice president level and above is female, which is uncommon for our industry, we are also working to ensure a similar collection of diverse outlooks throughout the rest of the company.

But our goals extend beyond making sure we hire women, veterans, minorities, or any other specific group. It’s about transforming Aqua’s recruitment and retention strategy to ensure that we recruit, train, retain and promote engaged, passionate employees who will flourish.  In taking initial steps to realize this vision, Aqua is exploring partnerships with diversity organizations to build a talent pipeline specific to diversity. We’re also actively participating in career forums, attending young professional networking events, partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life, and encouraging mentor relationships with the senior leadership team.

   

While I’m at the beginning of my tenure with Aqua – only nine months in this role – I am encouraged by senior leadership’s belief that diversity and inclusion is an essential aspect of our company’s culture as we continue to grow. I always say that if you build an inclusive culture they will come, and I look forward to updating you in the coming months on the progress we’re making to transform our company. 

 

 

 

Share This Post:

DIY Lunchbox Ice Packs: Keeping Lunchtime Cool

 Image via Flickr user Rubbermaid

Alright, parents: the kids have finally gone back to school! The back-to-school shopping list might have seemed endless, but we’re here to arm you with some creative and resourceful DIY projects that can help your family this fall season.

 

Here are two inexpensive DIY hacks that can help you cut corners and keep your kids’ lunches cool by the time noon rolls around. Not only will these DIY ice packs help you save money for your family, but they are also fun and safe projects to do with the kids on the weekend. Get started with the steps below.

 

 

 Image via Flickr user horiavarlan 

Method 1

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pack of sponges
  • 1 box of sandwich bags
  • Bowl of water

What to do:

  1. Take the sponge and soak it in water, letting the sponge absorb as much water as possible.
  2. Place the sponge in the sandwich bag.
  3. Let the sponge freeze overnight.
  4. After the sponge thaws out, place it back in the freezer at the end of the day. The sponge will absorb the “melted” water and be good to go for the next day. 

 

By using sponges as a thrifty alternative to those pricey ice packs, you won’t break the bank replacing them if the ice pack is accidentally thrown away after lunch. In addition to saving money, you’ll also be conserving water by allowing the ice pack to re-absorb the water in the sandwich bag time and time again.

 

The second method is a bit more hands-on and does require the use of rubbing alcohol, so please use your discretion when working with children.

 

 

 

Method 2

 

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of water per pack
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol per pack
  • Freezer bags
  • Food dye

What to do:

  1. Pour three cups of water into a freezer bag.
  2. Pour one cup of rubbing alcohol into the same bag.
  3. Add a few drops of food dye of your choice to the mixture.
  4. Shake it up!
  5. Remove the air from the bag.
  6. Place the first bag into another freezer bag to prevent leaks.
  7. Flatten the bags.
  8. Freeze.

 

This project provides longevity for your family’s ice packs. You can also personalize ice packs by letting the kids choose which color they want their ice pack to be.

 

We hope you and your loved ones have a great school year, and keep checking back here for more posts on how to save money and use water with fun, creative DIY projects the whole family can enjoy.

Share This Post:

In the Thick of Hurricane Season, Here are Some Reminders

With Hurricane Harvey just passing and Hurricane Irma looming, here are some reminders for hurricane preparedness:

The National Weather Service  classifies hurricane season as June 1 through November 30. Although extreme weather can be daunting, don’t panic: There are simple ways to be prepared for interruptions in water service.

Here’s what you need to know to make sure you and your family and loved ones remain safe and secure.  

Make a Hurricane Kit

If your water and power go out, chances are you will need some supplies to keep you and your family as comfortable as possible. Make sure to keep up to 72 hours worth of supplies in a safe, dry place. This includes bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, candles and even some fun items like decks of cards or board games. Click here for a full list compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Save Water

Make sure to save water in advance of a hurricane. Pitchers, pots and bathtubs are good places to store extra water from your faucets in case water service is indeed interrupted.

How to Boil Water

Once water service is restored, Aqua will likely issue a precautionary boil advisory to ensure your water is purified and safe to use. Boiling your water before using it for drinking or cooking is a crucial step in ensuring the safety of you and your family.

Here’s a handy instructional guide:

If possible, infants and pregnant women should use bottled or stored water instead of boiled tap water for drinking and cooking during a boil advisory.

Stay Connected

Make sure to keep an eye on the following channels to ensure you receive any updates from Aqua about boil advisories or water services.

After the storm has passed, Aqua will collect water samples once service is restored and will run tests to ensure that no bacteriological contamination took place during repairs or periods of pressure loss. These laboratory tests might take a couple of days to complete.

With a stocked hurricane kit, extra water on hand and a pledge not to panic, you’re as prepared for hurricane season as one can be. Now it’s time to get back to the beach!

For additional information, reach out to our customer service representatives at 887-987-2782, or visit us at AquaAmerica.com to sign up to sign up for WaterSmart alerts.

 

Share This Post:

A Note of Thanks to Our Water-ful Aqua Employees

This week, we celebrated Labor Day all across the nation.

As individuals, we owe a great deal to the people whose labor allows us to live our daily lives: the carpenters who build our homes, the farmers who grow the food we eat, the technicians that let us thrive in our digital world, and many more.

As a company, we owe everything to our employees: the people who work tirelessly to allow us to fulfill our mission of protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource to our customers.

We have three core values here at Aqua: Integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence. 

Integrity means that Aqua is a place of honesty, good character and trust. We care about each other, our customers and our mission of protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource. 

 

Respect means that we are committed to each other, our customers, the community and the environment. We work at a company that respects our well-being, including respect for our time out of the office and with family.

 

The pursuit of excellence means that whether at home or at work, we seek growth and development opportunities and excel in safety and customer service. We work to uphold a successful company that maximizes shareholder value. 

As we begin to wrap up the poolside days, barbeques and beach weekends of summertime, we wanted to extend a note of thanks to our employees all across our eight states of service for their commitment to these values day in and day out.

Thank you to our hardworking crew members who work in the field to ensure water service for our customers, even during emergencies and irregular hours of the day. 

Thank you to our customer service representatives who work diligently to listen and respond to our customers’ questions and concerns on a daily basis.

Thank you to our teams who work across departments ranging from human resources to operations to keep the Aqua wheels in motion every day. 

This past Monday was not the only time that your efforts were appreciated—you are appreciated every single day.

 

Share This Post: