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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Decrease the grease with these easy tips

The holidays are quickly approaching, and in between traveling, cooking and decorating, you won’t want to worry about a clogged sink. That’s why Aqua is here to help you keep any and all grease monsters out of your home.

Follow these easy tips to prevent fat, oil and grease from blocking your drains and pipes.

Be informed

First, it’s important to know what types of food can cause clogged sinks. Here are some of the most common culprits:

● Butter

● Cooking oil

● Lard (shortening)

● Meats

● Greasy sauces

 

Consider the consequences

A clogged sink may not seem like a big inconvenience, because all it does is flood your sink—right? Wrong. Blocked pipes can cause serious damage to your home, community and wallet.

● Clogged pipes can become a health hazard by spreading bacteria that leads to various illnesses and unsanitary water.

● Clogged pipes can also cause an overflow of sewage, which is both gross and expensive. Sewage overflow can affect streets, yards and parks, and it can also lead to higher costs for local wastewater utilities.         

● Aside from all of that damage, clogged pipes can also pollute nearby groundwater, which harms both homes and the environment.

 

Practice smart cleaning habits

You don’t have to cut foods containing fat, oil and grease out of your diet to avoid issues, simply make these small adjustments to your cleaning habits in order to keep your sinks grease-free.

● Pour grease into a metal can rather than down the sink. It will change from liquid to semi-solid in form, and at that point, just toss the can into your trash bin.

● Keep strainers in your sink drains to catch small pieces of food and globs of grease. When you finish cooking and cleaning, empty the strainer into your trash bin.

● Don’t rely on a garbage disposal to keep your drain clog-free—they can’t keep grease out of your plumbing system.

● Throw away baby wipes, “flushable” wipes and other sanitary items that can get stuck in your pipes.

 

Invest in extra help for your business

Businesses often see higher traffic than private homes, which can mean more grease and bigger consequences. If you’re a business owner, consider installing vented grease traps that are designed to handle appropriate amounts of grease. Grease traps should be cleaned, maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they work properly.

Don’t let fear of a clogged drain ruin your holiday fun. With these tips, you’ll be sure to kick out the grease monsters long before they can even make an appearance.

Keep checking back here for holiday water-smart tips from Aqua!

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Get the Lead Out with These Five Tips


October 22–28 is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and at Aqua, we’re committed to providing our customers with the most reliable and safe water service possible.

According to the EPA, many homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust. Sometimes, this contamination can spread to other parts of your home, including your water sources, which is why we want to arm you with knowledge and tips that can help prevent lead exposure.

Here are five actions you can take to decrease the possibility of potential lead exposure for you and your loved ones.

Use a filter that follows NSF standards.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has a consumer guide for homeowners that may be affected by lead poisoning that contains information about appropriate filters. Using a filter is also a good preventative measure for customers living in homes that were built before 1978 or that contain non-plastic plumbing installed before 1986.

Change the screen on your faucet regularly.

Regularly changing the screen (sometimes referred to as aerator) on your faucets can help reduce lead build-up and provide better water flow. For an easy how-to guide on replacing your aerator, click here.

 

(infographic courtesy of EPA)

Buy a home testing kit.

For as little as $20, you can test your water source for lead with a lead poisoning detection kit. If you’d rather leave it to the pros, call Aqua at 877.987.2782 to schedule a technician visit to your home for testing.

Replace your pipeline if it is made of lead.

Lead pipelines can be distinguished by scratching a section of pipe that is connected to your water meter. Scratch the section of the pipe with a coin; if the paint comes off easily and looks like the color of a nickel, it could be lead. If so, call a plumber to switch out your lead piping with another material.

 

(infographic courtesy of EPA)

Contact Aqua immediately if you suspect a possible contamination.

If you suspect a lead contamination in your water source, contact us at 877.987.2782 to schedule a time for a technician to visit to your home for testing. For more information about testing details, contact a customer service representative at the same number.

Taking the time to recognize the potential sources of lead will better equip you and your family to prevent exposure. We hope that these tips will educate and prepare you and your loved ones in the case of a lead poisoning emergency.

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5 Haunted House Decorations You Didn’t Know Were Made with Water

Haunted houses are always a fan-favorite Halloween pastime, and if you’ve ever been inside one, you know that they are full of intricate decorations and special effects.

We can’t help but appreciate all the art and craftsmanship that goes into creating these spooky attractions, especially when we know that many of the special effects that make haunted houses so terrifying are created with—you guessed it—water.

Read on to see our five favorite water-filled haunted house effects (and to learn how they work).

Fake Blood

While you may be thinking this spooky classic is nothing more than face paint or ketchup, it’s actually a water solution. One of the best ways to make fake blood is to use water, cornstarch, corn syrup, onion flakes and red food coloring.

Fog

The fog you see at haunted houses or in scary movies is actually made with dry ice. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, so when it changes states, it actually turns directly into a gas. All that’s needed is a large bucket or cauldron about a fourth of the way filled with hot, hot water. Once dry ice is deposited into the water, voila: you’ll start to see a thick, spooky fog. (Remember: Never handle dry ice with bare hands as it can damage your skin due to its extremely low temperatures.)

Witches Brew

Witches brew is essential for any haunted house. While the solution can be made with a number of odd ingredients, water brings it all together. Getting the perfect icky green witches brew is as simple as boiling up a pot of water, adding a drop or two of dish soap and pouring in some food coloring. Of course, you can always add some candy eyeballs or gummy worms to make the bubbly brew extra spooky.

Specimen Jars

Specimen jars are among the creepiest of haunted house decorations: they combine both odd little creatures and greenish liquids you’d imagine smell awful. In reality, though, specimen jars are just filled with water, a couple of drops of food coloring and small toy animals or doll parts.

Plus, specimen jars can become even creepier by turning them into a sensory experience. Adding foods like cold spaghetti and peeled grapes to a jar and asking haunted house visitors to close their eyes and stick their hands inside is sure to produce some shrieks.

Slime

 

Slime is a perfect haunted house decoration: It’s easy to make, fun to play with and slippery as can be. Though it may feel like it comes from the bottom of a snail or a big fish, slime is actually made with a simple mixture containing water. The mixture creates a medium between solid and liquid that makes for some great ghost sludge or monster ooze. The best part is that the slime can easily be cleaned up with warm water, too.

As you’re preparing for Halloween, read up on Halloween safety to get the most out of the big night of trick-or-treating, and if you want to make some treats of your own to share with friends and family, make sure to check out our recipe for DIY salt water taffy.

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