6 Ways to Improve Water Quality Right In Your Backyard

August is National Water Quality Month, which is a great reason to remember that clean water is an invaluable resource to our communities both big and small. Aqua is committed to ensuring water quality. Our efforts to update and maintain infrastructure are one way Aqua helps make a difference, but we like celebrating the simple ways individuals can make a difference, too.

Here are six easy ways you can stand with us in our pledge to protect the water in our communities.

Wash the Days of Disposing of Chemicals in Your Sink or Toilet Down the Drain

If you need to get rid of paint, chemical cleaners or any other questionable liquids, do not dispose of them in your sink! Some of the chemicals in these products can be toxic, so you do not want them to get into your water supply. Instead, it’s easy to find a proper way to dispose of these hazardous waste materials by searching Earth911 or by contacting your local sanitation, public works or environmental health department.

Additionally, non-biodegradable objects such as baby wipes, feminine hygiene products and medicines should never be flushed down the toilet as a method of disposal. Instead, dispose these items in their proper trash receptacles or see if your local pharmacy has a take-back program to safely get rid of pills.

Hit the Road with Improper Car-Washing Techniques

You might think washing your car at home is a no-brainer, but you may be surprised to know that because many car-washing soaps contain mixtures of various chemicals, you could be unknowingly contaminating your water supply.

When you use cleaning products inside your home, the used water goes straight to a treatment plant through sanitary sewer systems. The leftover water from washing a car outside, however, often goes down storm drains and ends up in water supply systems without undergoing proper treatment.

Instead, consider getting your car washed at a commercial business designed to handle all the watery runoff. Professional car washes tend to use 60 percent less water than at-home methods, too. If you prefer to wash your own car, make sure to invest in biodegradable and phosphate-free cleaners. Wash on an area that absorbs water, such as gravel or grass, and use a trigger nozzle on your hose to conserve water. 

Put Your Banana Peels To Good Use

 

Common lawn chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides are often used to care for gardens and yards. When they aren’t used correctly, though, they can enter into streams where they can harm critters and contaminate drinking water.

Instead, consider using compost as a natural fertilizer. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a helpful guide to how to get started. Composting adds nutrients and organic matter back into soil without relying on harmful chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers. 

Make Picking Up Your Pet’s Number Two Your Number One Priority

When you don’t pick up your pet’s waste, you put yourself and your water supply at risk. During rain storms, a lot of this waste runs straight into storm drains that—you guessed it—do not get treated to ensure water quality.

Did you know you can make it a priority for your neighborhood to clean up after its four-legged friends by coming together to install a community waste bag station? Consider fundraising to buy a ready-made waste station, or rise to the challenge building your own.

Throw Litter For a Loop

Litter on streets, sidewalks and parking lots easily washes into our water systems. Even if you would never dream of littering, it’s important to note that it still happens all the time. People are less likely to litter when it isn’t the norm, so instead of relying on others to pick up trash, challenge yourself to lead by example. 

Organize a Community Clean-Up 

The most effective way to protect water quality in your community is to go straight to the source. Enacting a community clean-up of your local watershed can do wonders for your local ecosystem and water supply. There are plenty of existing toolkits that make it as easy as possible for community members to organize clean-up efforts at local rivers or streams.

You can also search for established clean-up projects in your area. Most groups are always looking for volunteers and would be happy to include you in their efforts.

Clearly, a great deal of planning goes into a community clean-up, but a commitment to water quality in the long-run is beneficial to all.

There are so many ways to protect the water in your community. Together we can ensure that the quality of our water remains a priority for ourselves, our families and generations to come. 

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

 

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

Photo via Flickr user Fred Rockwood

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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Aqua Ohio Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Johnson

Aqua continues to highlight each of our eight states for a month at a time. Throughout July, our focus has been on sharing all about Aqua Ohio. One way we’re sharing our story, is by sharing our employees’ stories. 

When Aqua Ohio Area Manager Jennifer Johnson was preparing to graduate from Youngstown State University in the spring of 1998, she wasn’t expecting her first job to be with a water utility.

“When I was first hired by Aqua Ohio in the spring of my senior year of college, I used to think that I just had a job with a utility company,” said Johnson. “Now, after many years in the field and holding different positions within Aqua, I consider myself a utility professional.”

Johnson started as communications coordinator for Aqua Ohio in 1998 and held the position for seven years. But the desire to explore beyond eastern Ohio was strong and she moved with her family (husband Kevin and son, Kevin Jr.) to Columbus. For five years she was the director of human resources at a law firm before she felt the pull to move back home.

Johnson and her family moved back to her hometown of Lowellville, Ohio in 2010 when she began her second position at Aqua as Ohio’s Customer Field Services Manager. In 2015, Johnson became the area manager for the Struthers Division at Aqua Ohio, her current position today.

As area manager, Johnson is responsible for the overall management and operations of the water and wastewater facilities within her division, including operational efficiency, financial viability, quality customer service, employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and community relationships.

Johnson’s first two years as area manager have been busy and productive. Not only did Aqua purchase land and break ground on a new building in Struthers, but Johnson hired and on-boarded 11 new employees and negotiated a five-year rate plan with 10 municipal authorities in the Struthers Division service territory.

As one of the few female area managers, Johnson is well aware that she is in a traditionally male profession and role. She is grateful to be surrounded by a very supportive group of colleagues and division team at Aqua.

“The overwhelming majority of feedback I receive in the community is very supportive, especially from other women,” said Johnson. “As a female in a traditionally male role, I feel pride and a responsibility to be a role model for young girls; to show them women can do anything.”

While Johnson’s work life is demanding, she is appreciative to have time to take part in another passion – giving back.

“I was very fortunate during my early years at Aqua to have the opportunity to be involved in local community organizations,” said Johnson. “Now, as an area manager, I am able to direct my community involvement and Aqua’s philanthropic support to local community events and organizations that directly benefit our customer base. The Struthers Division is very visible in the community and we go beyond ‘writing a check.’”

Johnson serves on the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Community Leadership Council and serves as co-chair of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Breakfast with Santa event, which raises more than $10,000 each year for the hospital. The hospital services the Struthers service territory and Johnson believes it’s important to give back to such a prominent hospital that provides such a vital service to the community.

Johnson also serves as president of the Rotary Club of Struthers, chairperson of the Lowellville Schools Foundation and is a member of the Youngstown Business Incubator Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Steering Committee.

“This job has showed me that it is possible to have a family, successful career and time to give back,” said Johnson. “I am thankful to work for Aqua, a company that believes in supporting a work-life balance, which allows me to grow in my career and support community efforts that I am passionate about.”

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Animal Hydration is a Priority at the Philadelphia Zoo

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This is a guest blog by the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, keeping animals cool and hydrated is an important part of caring for the 1,300 animals that call America’s first zoo home.

Depending on the animal, there are a variety of ways to keep the residents at the Zoo chill in the warm summer months, including mud wallows, misters, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), access to air conditioned indoor areas and, of course, lots of water. Each species may prefer or need something different, and zookeepers work to provide what is best for the animal they care for.

For Tony, our southern white rhinoceros, mud wallows in his exhibit seem to work best. Keepers excavate a large area and fill it up with fresh water and watch Tony roll around and frolic in the mud. Besides the fun and the ability to cool down, the mud bath offers a variety of benefits to Tony, including providing a natural UV buffer to protect his skin and defense against pesky insects.

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Mammals like Amur tigers, snow leopards and red pandas always have access to their indoor areas if they want to go inside to hang out in air conditioning. Hippos, tigers, polar bears, otters and more have large swimming pools and area water misters if they want to take a quick dip to cool off. Of course, every animal at the Zoo has continuous access to fresh drinking water. 

Additionally, keepers provide frozen and delectable ice treats as another creative way to keep the animals cool and hydrated. Many animal residents are treated to refreshments like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, or other snacks that have been frozen in ice.

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Icy delicacies like fishsicles are a favorite for our giant river otters and polar bear. Frozen fish like smelt and trout are not only a vital part of our otter’s diet, but they also act as a refreshing treat and are always a welcome snack!

No matter the species, the well-being of every animal at the Zoo is the number one priority. As America’s first zoo, we offer well-established animal care programs and work with dedicated teams to ensure the best care for all of the wildlife living within our historic gates.

On your next Zoo visit, keep an eye out for our animal residents and the unique ways they keep cool and hydrated!

 

 

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Municipalities Turn to Aqua for Water and Wastewater Expertise

 

By Aqua Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development Dan Schuller

For decades, cities and towns across the United States have grappled with the responsibilities that come with owning, operating and maintaining their own water and wastewater systems. For some, rapidly aging infrastructure has proven prohibitively expensive to maintain or replace. Others are struggling to keep up with increasingly stringent state and federal drinking water and wastewater regulations. Even municipalities that operate their water and wastewater systems successfully are finding it more and more challenging to maintain balanced budgets when faced with managing a myriad competing priorities like roads, bridges, parks, libraries, police and other community needs.

With more than 130 years of technical expertise in the water industry, Aqua is proud to provide a solution to municipalities facing these challenges. Since 2007, we have acquired 174 water and wastewater systems, including more than 20 municipal systems – helping us to become one of largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation. By leveraging our compliance expertise, purchasing power and operational efficiencies, Aqua has infused needed capital and resources into the systems we aquire to rehabilitate and operate the infrastructure required for clean drinking water and wastewater.

 

For Aqua, the business model is about more than growth – it also allows us to do our part to strengthen water and wastewater infrastructure in communities across the states we serve. It’s a responsibility about which we feel strongly – and it’s why Aqua will invest more than $450 million in water and wastewater infrastructure in 2017 alone, after having invested $1.5 billion in capital improvements over the past five years.

The opportunity to sell their systems to Aqua is a win-win for local governments and customers, too. Municipalities are alleviated from the responsibility and cost of maintaining their own systems, and customers also benefit from Aqua’s investment in their town’s infrastructure, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing a trusted company is ensuring the reliability and quality of their water or wastewater service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plus, many municipalities are able to use the proceeds from the sale of their systems for other important needs within their communities.

 

We’re proud of the role we’re playing in improving our nation’s water and wastewater systems. To learn more about Aqua’s partnerships with municipal water and wastewater utilities and our ongoing commitment to investing in America’s infrastructure, please visit AquaCanHelp.com

 

 

 

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