I’m proud of the positive impacts Aqua Ohio infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects have on Mahoning Valley communities

 

By Aqua Ohio President Ed Kolodziej

After more than a hundred years serving Mahoning Valley residents with safe, reliable water, Aqua Ohio is more committed than ever to the area. We marked the end of our 2017 construction season by announcing our completion of $10.3 million in improvements. These spanned across Mahoning Valley’s water distribution system and water treatment plant and included adding a new operations center that will open later this month. All of these projects were done in an effort to strengthen the region’s infrastructure, now and for the future.

And the work doesn’t stop there. Our area manager responsible for this region, Jennifer Johnson, is not only focused on completing these projects, but also in proactive maintenance, customer care and future endeavors.

Jennifer says that water systems need continual maintenance and replacement to assure reliable service. She shares that she’s proud to be part of a team that is investing the resources necessary to help keep uninterrupted water service flowing to our customers, and I’m proud she’s on our team.

For 2018, Aqua Ohio has planned for a total of $30 million to be invested throughout northeast Ohio. Of that, Jennifer and her team will be doing at least $13 million of improvements just in our Struthers system alone. This is in addition to the work completed this year.

 

Specifically, this spring, Aqua broke ground on a new operations center in the CASTLO industrial park in downtown Struthers. Operations personnel will be moved later this month to the 14,300 square-foot building, which includes enough space to enable us to welcome future customers to our family. The office will serve customers in Struthers, Poland, Lowellville and New Middletown, and the townships of Beaver, Boardman, Canfield, Coitsville, Poland and Springfield.

Currently, Aqua provides water to approximately 300,000 Buckeyes in northeast Ohio and 500,000 statewide. We have unmatched expertise in water and wastewater utilities, which continues to allow us to serve residents and communities throughout the valley. I take pride in the way our company is setting an example for water system management in the area, and how we protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource. 

 

 

 

 

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Make a Memorable Menorah with DIY Hanukkah Candles

Hanukkah is a time to be surrounded by your friends and family, and what better way to appreciate those loved ones than by working together on a fun project to spread the holiday joy?

These floating wick DIY Hanukkah Candles look beautiful and add a twist to your typical menorah or festive candle display. You can’t go wrong with this simple way to get creative and have fun.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • Blue food coloring
  • 8 small glass cups
  • Floating wicks
  • Spoon

What To Do:

  1. Place all eight cups on a menorah stand or a festive tray of your choosing.
  2. Place a few drops of blue food coloring into the water in a separate dish and stir until the color is even throughout the water. (Note: For extra flair, you can separate your water into the cups first and then add different shades of blue to each cup.
  3. Fill each cup ¾ of the way full with the tinted water.)
  4. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to each cup.
  5. Carefully place one floating wick in each cup without getting the wick wet.
  6. Your display is finished and ready to be lit!

In only six easy steps, you now have a unique candle display to use for Hanukkah celebrations or to use throughout the entire holiday season. 

We hope working together on this DIY candle display is just one of many ways you and your loved ones get to spend time together over the holidays.

Our entire Aqua family sends you and yours our warmest wishes for a happy and healthy Hanukkah. As always, don’t forget to stay tuned for more fun and easy ways to celebrate the holidays using Earth’s most essential resource—water!

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Water Infrastructure Leads America to a Crossroads In Protecting Our Most Essential Resource

By Marc Lucca, Aqua Pennsylvania President

America is at a crossroads for protecting our most essential resource: water.

The state of the U.S. water infrastructure system was a conversation long overdue, but it took the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, to bring the issue to the forefront. Now, municipalities around the country are grappling with the question of how best to pay for water infrastructure upgrades necessary to replace aging infrastructure and to meet ever-changing regulations. More regulations are likely to come after the Flint crisis. A recent New York Times article noted that the more than 1 million miles of pipes that make up our country’s water and sewer systems will reach an average age of 45 years by 2020. Our cities and towns already are financially strapped. Can we expect them to resolve water infrastructure and regulatory compliance problems before it’s too late and another crisis hits?

Aqua doesn’t think so, and we certainly don’t want to wait around to see what will happen. We need to move to protect our customers.

U.S. water infrastructure is a looming crisis

A Brookings Institution study from 2016 found that 88 percent of Americans believe action needs to be taken to solve the U.S. water infrastructure problem. Yet only 17 percent of utilities are confident they can cover the cost of current services through rates and fees — let alone considering the cost of upgrades.

And upgrades are desperately needed. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reported that leaking pipes cause us to lose more than 6 billion gallons of treated drinking water each day. The ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card noted that 240,000 water main breaks occur each year and that a $1 trillion investment is needed to maintain and expand service for increasing demands over the next 25 years. These facts caused the ASCE to give America’s drinking water infrastructure a D grade.

We don’t have much time to solve our water infrastructure issues, and each day that we waste is more money that will have to be invested to solve the problem.

Can cities, towns and authorities afford the $1 trillion investment needed to fix drinking water infrastructure issues? It doesn’t seem feasible without forcing these entities to make tough choices, such as tax increases, rate increases and cuts in other services.

Utilities follow rigorous treatment standards

Infrastructure is only one issue facing cities, towns and authorities. Many struggle to meet the standards required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) due to the resources required.

The SWDA sets national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against all naturally occurring and manmade contaminants, and these treatment standards required by the SWDA are increasingly stringent. To comply with standards and regulations, utilities must conduct assessments of water sources to see where they could be vulnerable to contamination, comply with the EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulations and monitor the presence of contaminants, among other requirements.

To ensure compliance with the SWDA and EPA standards and regulations, utilities need dedicated, highly technical resources for treatment design and day-to-day operations. These resources require significant, continual levels of investment, which many cities, towns and authorities cannot afford.

A 2012 analysis of EPA records by American Water Intelligence showed that the largest water companies have “near perfect” records in delivering water compliant with the SWDA. By comparison, the analysis noted that most of the violations from 2007 to 2012 were issued to public enterprises.

How Aqua can help

There’s a simple reason that regulated utility companies, like Aqua, are better at handling your drinking water. At Aqua, it’s all we do.

Aqua has the capabilities and resources to upgrade U.S. water infrastructure systems for current and future needs. Most of the communities served by municipalities or authorities have clean water today, but can they guarantee the same in the future without substantial investment they can’t afford or the technical resources to execute the required capital projects?

Everyone deserves dependable, safe drinking water, and the only way to provide it is with a solid water infrastructure.

We’re interested in your thoughts and reactions. Chat with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Aqua Gives Back with United Way

Volunteering is a key part of what makes Aqua employees who we are.

Recently, to get a head start on the season of giving, we partnered with United Way to embark on a company-wide charitable giving campaign.

United Way is an organization dedicated to advocating for the “health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.” Some Aqua employees have been involved with the United Way in the past, and that, partnered with their mission, made for the perfect organization for us to come together to create a campaign that would encourage employee teamwork and simultaneously help so many members of the communities across all eight of our states. 

“Aqua has had a long partnership with United Way for more than 30 years,” said Karen Carlson, our director of community affairs & corporate giving, who helped to execute the campaign. “Our CEO Chris Franklin wanted to have a centralized, company-wide employee campaign. He chaired the campaign this year and our CFO Dave Smeltzer will chair it next year.” 

This was our first time running a company-wide charitable initiative, and we were thrilled to see that our employees were eager to participate. Aqua employees across all eight states were split into two teams, the Aqua Avengers and the Water Warriors, and competed for the highest percentage of participation in giving to United Way. The winning team received an additional personal day off for 2018.

All in all, we raised $147,000 for United Way with the help of our outstanding employees. We’re so grateful for the generosity, time and effort that they put into making the campaign such a success. 

“It was a great team effort, and it provided an opportunity to better get to know our coworkers across Aqua’s eight states. Everyone pitched in and had great ideas,” Carlson said. “Many Aqua locations donated to the United Way in years past, but this was the first time we did so as a united front.”

We can’t wait to continue engaging our employees in meaningful community impact projects. Stay tuned to see where we make a difference next!

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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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