Don’t let fats, oils and grease ruin your festive feasts

The holiday season is upon us and that means families will be spending lots of time in the kitchen in the coming weeks. Whether you’ll be cooking a festive feast or baking sweet treats, nothing can put a damper on holiday cheer quite like a stopped-up sink or costly drain clog. 

So how can you avoid clogged pipes this holiday season? The best way is to know what can and cannot go down your household pipes. The most common causes of clogs are fats, oils and grease, which can solidify in household drains and, over time, completely block pipes. Many common foods – including sauces, meats, dairy, cooking oil, butter, food scraps and lard – contain fats, oils and grease that can contribute to clogged drains, and should not be poured down drains.

Blocked pipes can back up raw sewage, causing serious health hazards. It can also create an overflow of raw sewage into parks, yards and streets, and pollute groundwater. On top of sewage overflow, blocked pipes can increase costs for local wastewater utilities and their customers.

After all, just like a clog can cause issues in your home, in extreme cases, giant clogs can build up in public wastewater systems, too. Check out this story about a huge “fatberg” that recently caused the public wastewater system in Baltimore to overflow – a story so strange it was even epitomized on a recent episode of "Saturday Night Live" ( see 1:04 mark)!

This holiday season, Aqua is offering customers the following tips to keep in mind as you prepare for holiday cooking and baking:

  • Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets. Instead, pour it into a metal can, wait for it to cool, and dispose in the trash!
  • Use strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids.
  • Scrape food scraps and grease into a trash can.
  • Remember that garbage disposals do not keep grease out of plumbing systems or prevent clogs.
  • Avoid flushing wipes down the toilet. Baby wipes – and even wipes marketed as being “flushable” – don’t break down and can cause back ups and clogs.

Aqua does its part to ensure that local pipes and wastewater systems are free of clogs and operating at full capacity. You can do your part by taking necessary steps to avoid clogged pipes. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information. 

 

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Ripple Effect brings volunteerism, work-life efforts into focus

Aqua is introducing a new campaign to bring into clearer focus all the good the company and its employees do for each other, and in the communities it serves.  The Ripple Effect will encompass volunteerism, the Aqua charitable trust, work-life balance and knowledge sharing, said Kimberly Joyce, vice president of legislative, regulatory and external affairs, who oversees the effort.

“At Aqua, we believe our mission, vision and core values shape us as an exceptional company,” Joyce said. “They enable us to go above and beyond, making a positive impact on water, the environment, our communities and our work together.”

Joyce said the Ripple Effect represents Aqua’s continued commitment to reinforcing these ideals, now and in the future.

Ripple Effect from volunteering

Aqua recognizes the value volunteer service has for both local organizations and employees. This year, following a pilot program in 2016, it has made a commitment to allow non-union employees eight hours of time to volunteer at company-sponsored events. Examples of those opportunities include planting trees, watershed clean ups, and working at local food banks.   

Aqua President and CEO Chris Franklin pointed out that there is just as much benefit to building camaraderie as there is for the recipients of the volunteerism work.

“When we put forth effort to make life better through the Ripple Effect, the outcome can be extremely rewarding,” he said. “We encourage all employees to participate, have fun, build newfound friendships and enjoy a shared sense of pride.”

Charitable trust’s Ripple Effect

Each year, Aqua’s charitable trust provides donations to organizations in the company’s eight states related to environmental stewardship and education, water and wastewater-related projects, emergency services such as fire departments and disaster relief, and community and economic development including arts and culture.

“When we donate dollars from our trust, we enrich lives throughout the communities we serve and advocate for the environment,” Joyce said. “Over the years, we have formed partnerships with impactful organizations such as the United Way. With our first companywide program this year, our employees raised $147,000. That shows the Ripple Effect we can have when we join together for a common good.”

Ripple Effect of work-life balance

Joyce says when Aqua helps its employees maintain a healthier lifestyle and enjoy flexibility, it improves the quality of work produced on behalf of the 3 million people it serves.

“With offerings like jump-start Fridays in the summer, wellness fairs and even local seasonal celebrations, we’re encouraging our team to find that balance we’re all seeking,” she said.

Knowledge-sharing Ripple Effect Villanova pic

From internships with Cristo Rey High School students to overseas travel with engineering majors, Aqua employees are sharing expertise and giving back to the next generation.   

Cristo Rey is a college-prep, high school in North Philadelphia that emphasizes helping students work towards college acceptance using work-study assignments in a variety of businesses like Aqua one day per week. Students learn about work skills from Aqua employees who coach and mentor these young men and women.

“It’s rewarding on both sides of the equation,” Joyce noted.

Another way Aqua employees share knowledge is by paring engineering students from Villanova University with the company’s professional engineers to tackle complex water supply problems in Central America.   

"Our partnership with Villanova University allows our employees to volunteer their time and expertise to help shape future engineers, while making a real difference for communities that need clean running water," Joyce said.

Other examples of knowledge sharing include participation in Junior Achievement, the world's largest organization dedicated to empowering high school students to own their economic success through programs focusing on work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.

“The senior team encourages employees to really embrace this effort, and be the drop that starts a Ripple Effect for the good of your team, our customers, and our communities,” Joyce said.

 

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What Are Toilets Called Around The World?

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World Toilet Day highlights global need for sanitation

By Aqua Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer Chris Crockett 

Today, 4.5 billion people in the world live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste, according to the United Nations. In communities with weak sanitation infrastructure, pipework can break and raw sewage can be emptied into the environment. This puts waste into the open air where it is spread by flies, or contaminates farmland and water sources to make people seriously ill.

World Toilet Day, a day of observation designated by the United Nations General Assembly, provides an opportunity for global entities to work together to inspire action and tackle this sanitation crisis.

 

In the United States, it’s easy for consumers to take for granted the intense wastewater treatment process that occurs when water goes down a drain or toilet. Aqua, for instance, provides wastewater services to more than 250,000 people throughout the eight states we serve, and we operate 185 wastewater treatment plants and collection systems to safely treat this water.

Our company uses a stringent seven-step wastewater treatment process before returning the water to rivers and streams using the highest environmental standards. The wastewater is first transported from homes, schools and businesses to one of our treatment plants via underground pipes, where screens and other mechanisms remove materials like paper, rocks and sand. The third step, known as primary clarification, occurs when oil and grease float to the top of the water and are skimmed off, while heavier materials sink to the bottom of the tanks and are removed.

The water then moves to biological treatment and final clarification, during which microscopic organisms break down organic material in the wastewater. After this point, the primarily clear liquid flows through final clarification before it is sent through filtration, where the majority of remaining suspended particles are removed from the water. In the sixth step, disinfection, ultraviolet light and other treatment methods are used to kill all disease-causing organisms. The seventh step occurs when the treated water is discharged either for irrigation or put back into local rivers and streams.

Each day, Aqua returns 29 million gallons of wastewater into bodies of water cleaner than it came out. This clean water is critical to our water supplies, and is also critical to the fish and flora that need it to survive.

But in so many other areas of the world, countries are struggling to properly dispose of and treat the water to keep their human population healthy. The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure that everyone across the globe has access to a safely managed household toilet by 2030.

Aqua works to help developing countries by providing water infrastructure expertise in Central America each year, and there are ways we all can help to promote the importance of wastewater treatment during World Toilet Day. By visiting the World Toilet Day website, you can learn more about the issue and share information with your networks to promote this important cause.

 

 

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Join us in saluting the veterans of Aqua

At Aqua, we feel very grateful that we employ so many veterans who bring their dedication, courage and spirit to our company. As Veterans Day approaches, we want to take some time to recognize and give a special thank you to some of the veterans who work within our Aqua family.

First recognized as Armistice Day in 1919 and eventually broadened to Veterans Day in 1954, the holiday serves as an opportunity to thank, celebrate and remember the individuals who have served and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces. 

“It’s an honor to work alongside the veterans throughout Aqua’s workforce,” said Aqua CEO Chris Franklin. “I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each of the men and women at Aqua who have served, and to wish you a happy Veterans Day.”

We are thankful that these men and women are a part of our team. At Aqua, we will always strive to create opportunities for our veterans and continue to embrace and honor the incredible work they’ve done for our nation.  

“We have long recognized that hiring veterans and members of our military community brings exceptional strengths to the business, which is why we actively engage and recruit talent with military backgrounds,” said Satnaree Brandon, manager of talent acquisition. “Aqua’s core values of integrity, respect and (the pursuit of) excellence align with the training veterans receive while in the service, providing them with a strong foundation in leadership and an exceptional value system that supports and builds on these values when they join our team.”

“Aqua is making a tremendous effort to foster inclusion within our workforce to better reflect the diverse communities we serve,” added Franklin. “Aqua is partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life. The work ethic and camaraderie these service members bring to their teams is an invaluable asset to their fellow employees and our customers.”

We hope you enjoy meeting some of our Aqua employees who have bravely served our country and shared their stories with us. Thank you to all of our veterans, both within our Aqua family and in the communities we serve, for your hard work and bravery. We wish you and your families a very happy Veterans Day.

 

John Aulbach (center), President, Virginia (Virginia)

Military branch: United States Army - Infantry

Rank: Colonel

Years served: 1981–2011

Most interesting deployment/assignment:

My most interesting and demanding assignment and deployment was in 2005 to Iraq commanding a brigade military transition team embedded with an Iraqi light infantry brigade. While interesting, it was also challenging to execute a complex mission across language and cultural barriers.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

As a veteran I am proud to have served and am grateful for the opportunities provided to me to develop within my chosen careers. Additionally, I have deep respect for veterans’ families who bear extreme hardships and am grateful for my wife and children who have been supportive of my profession.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

The ability to work in and lead large organizations built confidence in my own professional skill sets, as well as the ability to draw the maximum effort from each member of a team to accomplish a mission or assignment. My military experiences directly influenced my civilian career and the ability to be successful. 

 

Rickie Daniels, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Lance Corporal

Years served: Four years active duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was with a Joint NATO exercise that took place in Norway in the winter. We had to take winter training for months beforehand. The Norwegian people I had the pleasure of meeting were fantastic hosts and very polite to the American troops.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have had the opportunity to serve in the Marine Corps and help safeguard the freedoms we have in the USA.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being in the military taught me respect and responsibility, which I put to use in my personal and professional life to this day because they serve me well. 

 

Stephen Dunnahoe, Corporate Development Coordinator (Texas)

Military branch: United States Coast Guard

Rank: Logistics E-4

Years served: Six years total (four years active, two years reserve), 1978–1984

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

A year at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak Alaska and being able to visit the Aleutians.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

It has taught me fidelity, integrity, zeal, honor and obedience.  

 

Kirklyn Fields, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: 13 Years with an Honorable Discharge

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I am a Veteran of the Gulf War (Desert Shield and Desert Storm).

 

Johnny Gill, Utility/Inspector (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Army (14 years), Air Force (17 years)

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Years served: 31

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

For one deployment, I was responsible for the utilities/liquid fuels. We built hospitals; we helped people. We also helped the Navy Seals get a base in Kuwait up and running. I’m grateful in knowing that what I did helped.

What it means to you to be a veteran:

I’m proud to be a veteran and proud to have served, and feel, especially with my troops, that I taught them what they needed to do - how to do their job and how to survive. 

Stacey Hajdak, Director, Marketing and Communications (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Army

Rank: Major, Military Police Corps

Years served: 15 years (Reserve and Active Duty)

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

My absolute most memorable assignment was commanding a military police company during the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My unit trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey for several months before deploying to Kuwait just ahead of the coalition’s invasion of Iraq. We eventually crossed the border into Iraq and lived and worked from some of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Baghdad. Every day, there were new challenges in a very uncertain, austere environment. I am lucky to say we all came home safely after a yearlong deployment, in 2004.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Soldiers are taught a simple leadership paradigm: BE, KNOW, DO. BE like the mentors who guided you; KNOW your profession better than anyone; and DO the right things – everyday. I try to apply these Army ideals to everything I do, including leading communications here at Aqua. 

Charles Meloche, Operator 1 (Indiana)

Military branch: United States Army Military Police

Rank: E-4 (Specialist 4)

Years served: Three years active duty and three years) reserve duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia for all three of my active duty years. My most interesting duty was military prisoner escort to places such as Fort Leavenworth KS (the big house) andFort Riley KS (Retraining Prison).

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I come from a military family and I am very proud of my family’s military history and am proud to have done my part in serving this great nation. Veterans Day is special to me, but I also try to honor veterans all year round. 

Brent C. Reeh, CTX Area Manager (Texas)

Military branch: United States Air Force Reserves

Rank: Master Sergeant (E-7)

Years served: 21

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was to NATO Air Base Aviano AFB, located in northeastern Italy.  

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

Although I spent more than 20 years in the armed service, I have a difficult time considering myself  a veteran - maybe it’s because I consider myself too young to be a veteran? The real veterans are those who didn’t return from the war. It’s about duty, honor, love of country, sacrifice and respect. I proudly served my country for what I was trained to do. 

Aaron Riedmann, Water Treatment Technician (Ohio)

Military branch: Navy

Rank: E-4

Years served: Four years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

My most memorable deployment was to South America for humanitarian assistance. We went to Guatemala to help supply those in need of medical attention. We also built a new school and provided other resources for the locals.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

It means everything for me to be a veteran. I still to this day believe joining the military was the best decision I ever made.   

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being a veteran has made me a better employee/worker. Veterans are always on time, ready to put in the needed work, and able and willing to learn. 

Michael A. Stephens, Area Supervisor III (New Jersey)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Staff Sergeant E-5

Years served: Seven years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Osan Air Base, Osan Korea. I was an Environmental Support Specialist (water and wastewater treatment and operations)and I volunteered to perform as 57th CES Dorm Manager Osan Korea, Honor Guard Tyndall AFB Panama City, Fla. and 348th CES Career Counselor McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I was quite honored to serve my country. The only way I knew to demonstrate how honored I was to be in the U.S. Air Force was to volunteer for additional duties.

Lawrence Weaver, Assistant Superintendent, Construction (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: Six years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

The question of what being a veteran means to me brought a flurry of emotions. Pride, to be able to stand up and defend this great country, which I grew up loving as part of  a family full of veterans. Sadness, as it makes me reflect upon the comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending this great country. Uncertainty, in thinking did I do enough when I was there? I feel humbled to have had the opportunity to serve next to so many Marines who volunteered on their own accord to protect this great nation. Being a veteran, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help protect those freedoms like so many others did before me.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally? 

Being in the Marines affected me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I learned that you have the power to overcome adversity no matter how big or how small the obstacle. Everyone plays a role in success no matter the scope of their job. Perseverance is possible in any situation. The unofficial motto of the Marine Corps, Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, has served its “family” well and has given its “brothers and sisters” the tools to succeed. Stay calm under pressure and you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, and be clear of mind to understand what is going on and how to correct it. Learn from one another as everyone is an expert in something. Respect is earned, not demanded.

Jacob Tune, Facility Operator I (Texas)

Military branch: United States Army

Rank: E-1

Years served: Two and a half years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I did a 12-month tour at 348th Quartermaster Co., Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 1994–1995.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I acquired the ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle.

Roger Tupps, Regional Supervisor (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years served: 20 years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have served my country.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I believe the military really helps with being able to deal with different situations that arise. It also teaches healthy work ethic.

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