Get in the Holiday Spirit with DIY Snow Globes

 

If you’re looking for a fun DIY project for kids and adults alike, you’ve come to the right place! Snow globes are a staple of any holiday fun, and creating your own makes for both a fun activity with the family and a great homemade gift. Plus, any snow globe includes our favorite material: water!

What you’ll need:

-A small glass mason jar
-A plastic figurine (or whatever you’d like to be the star of the scene)
-Glitter or sequins
-Water
-Spoon
-Super glue or a hot glue gun

What to do:

1. Get creative and choose what you want to be the centerpiece of your snow globe. Use something like a plastic figurine, a Lego, or a small ornament. It can be holiday-themed or even beach-themed to warm you up during the colder months!
2. Once you have your figurine, use super glue or a hot glue gun to attach the plastic object to the lid of the jar.
3.Fill the jar with cold water.
4.Add your desired amount of glitter and sequins.
5.Screw the lid back onto the jar.
6.Turn it upside down and make it “snow”! 

Bonus tip: Add a few drops of glycerin to make the glitter float even better.  

Ta-da! Now, you have your very own snow globe to enjoy throughout the season or give as a holiday gift. We’d love to see your creations—share with us on Facebook and Twitter

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How Hollywood Movies Make Fake Rain and Snow

 

Sometimes the weather in a movie can help set the scene, and other times it’s the entire focal point. A scorching trek through the hot desert, a kiss in the rain, a holiday miracle under the falling snow...the list goes on! 

Have you ever wondered how Hollywood producers create these weather effects for a scene when it’s not actually raining or snowing? Let’s find out. 

Singing in the Rain

 

 

 

Whether it's an extreme downpour or a light drizzle, rain can set the mood for a great movie scene. Sometimes, set designers connect massive hoses to fire hydrants or trucks during outdoor shoots, then spray the hoses as desired from substantial heights.

Indoors, though, Most filmmakers use one or multiple rain curtains or rain bars, devices that create a rainfall effect when paired with some clever camera angles, lighting, and fans. 

Let It Snow

 

 

 

Hollywood waits for no one, which means that many holiday movies or snowy sets are actually filmed during other seasons or in places that rarely get snow. So, how do filmmakers make fake snow to create the perfect winter wonderland?

In the very early days of movie magic, substances such as white-painted cornflakes, salt, and flour were used to create the illusion of snow. Nowadays, CGI accounts for some of the amazing effects, but science has also come a long way in creating the perfect snowy substance that’s both safe and believable. 

Thin paper and plastics are two substances that are often shredded to look like snowflakes and blown around with huge wind machines to create a faux snowy scene. It may not sound picturesque, but it sure looks good! 

DIY Movie Set 

 

If you’re looking to create your own movie magic, there are simple recipes for artificial snow that don’t break the bank. All you need is laundry soap flakes or instant potato flakes and a strong fan to create a decent illusion of blowing snow. If you’re looking to set the stage with snow on the ground, you can mix liquid starch, laundry soap flakes, and blue food coloring. 

Creating your own rain may take a bit more effort. But all you need is a garden hose and a bit of determination! 

Next time you’re watching your favorite film, keep an eye out for the special weather effects filmmakers use to create the illusion of rain or snow. It may not be real water, but it’s still magical!

 

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The Science of Seltzer Water

 

Soda water may sound like something that was invented in the ‘80s, but we’ve actually been drinking it since the 1600s! People have used different methods to create it over the years, ranging from fermentation to taking carbon dioxide straight from the mines. But do you ever wonder how exactly those bubbles got into your water?

 

Soda bubbles form out of a gas called carbon dioxide that is omnipresent in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the gas that creates all the fizziness. The more carbon dioxide you add to water, the more bubbles and tangy taste you get, which is perfect for anyone who loves a twist in their water!

 

 

 

Carbon dioxide doesn’t exactly have a taste on its own, which is why when added to any drink, it creates a sharp, acidic sensation in your mouth. In fact, it forms something called carbonic acid, which in turn creates that crisp, tangy flavor.

  

The most common way of making your own seltzer is through a seltzer machine, which can be found online or at most department or home goods stores. The only other ingredient you need is the water straight out of your tap! A seltzer machine adds pressure to the water through its wand and creates bubbles as the pressure is released. The tube or wand uses pressure to dissolve and trap the carbon dioxide in your water. This chemical reaction is also used to make beer and soda foamy!

 

 

 

Another way to create bubbles is by dropping the temperature of the water and adding carbon dioxide to it, but you should leave that method to the pros. If you’ve ever wondered why your drinks stay crispier when they’re cold, now you have your answer!

 

What sounds better than a glass of cold, crisp seltzer to beat the heat while teaching the kids the science of it all? Cheers to a delicious and educational summer!

 

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Innovating Infrastructure in Lake Monticello

 

Our Aqua Virginia team recently completed an innovative wastewater treatment plant upgrade to improve service, protect local waterways, and operate more efficiently for the Lake Monticello community just outside Charlottesville.

 

Aqua had two overarching goals. We wanted to improve the quality of the plant’s treated wastewater, which is discharged into the stringently regulated Chesapeake Bay watershed. We also wanted to minimize future rate increases for customers by reducing operating expenses and deferring the need for a major plant overhaul, which would cost much more.

 

Consulting the Expert

 

We spoke to Aqua’s operations manager Dan Hingley, who engineered the project and oversaw construction. “While upgrades to water systems typically result in obvious improvements for customers — like better pressure or more reliable service — improvements to a wastewater system often go unnoticed,” said Hingley. “In fact, many of us don’t even think about our wastewater after it goes down the drain or is flushed away. Meanwhile, a lot of effort goes into collecting, transporting, and cleaning wastewater, and customers rely on us to protect the environment and their local waterways. This project demonstrates how we do that.”

 

 

 

The treatment concepts we used aren’t new, but the way we applied them required creativity and innovation to achieve goals at a lower cost. Making wise decisions about which treatment process to use and which types of equipment to install alleviated the total capital cost of the project. 

 

Aqua reconfigured the layout of the wastewater plant and added some new aeration system controls to optimize treatment. The team used baffle walls to create new zones within the existing tanks. These baffles control water flow, prolong the amount of time the wastewater spends in treatment tanks, and separate a single tank into multiple treatment stages. While the previous process was a single tank that was continuously aerated, the modified process added new zones that weren’t aerated to allow specific bacteria to eat organic matter in the untreated wastewater, which removes a nutrient called nitrogen.

 

In these new unaerated zones, Aqua had to install a mixing system since it was no longer being provided by the diffused aeration system. Aqua collaborated with a neighboring utility to design and build mixers that connect to the existing air supply system and release large air bubbles, rather than the smaller diffused air bubbles, to induce mixing. This solution costs less to create and costs less to operate than installing mechanical mixers.

 

 

 

 

Award-Winning Innovation

 

“Aqua’s top priority is to deliver safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater services to our customers,” noted Aqua Virginia President John Aulbach. “These upgrades in Lake Monticello will strengthen our infrastructure, improve service, and help protect the environment.” 

 

At its 2019 Summit, the National Association for Water Companies awarded Aqua a Management Innovation award for this project completed at the Lake Monticello wastewater treatment plant. The award recognizes a utility that has implemented groundbreaking and industry-changing ideas. 

 

Aqua provides water and wastewater service to about 80,000 people in 37 counties across Virginia. 

 

Keep an eye on our blog to go behind the scenes of more of our infrastructure improvement projects throughout 2020!

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Bringing e-Billing Ease to Aqua

As the decade comes to a close, we can’t help but look back and reflect on all of the growth of the company and the new services and projects we’ve introduced to our customers over the past 10 years.

Speaking of new services, did you know that we have multiple new e-Billing features that make it easier than ever to pay your water bill? To learn even more, we spoke with Manager of Collections, Billing, and Cash Applications Jack Farnsworth to get the details of four newly improved features and how they benefit Aqua customers across all eight of the states we serve.

Payment arrangement

We’re pleased to say that our payment arrangement feature is now active in all Aqua states. Payment arrangements are available to any Aqua customer who has fallen behind on their payments, and the feature allows customers to take the past due months and stretch them out for several months until they are caught up.

“The invoices were modified to clearly provide the monthly installment, the number of payments remaining and the total balance of the payment arrangement,” Farnsworth added. “At Aqua, we listen and value our customers—this change came directly from customer feedback. We’re glad that these new invoices help customers better understand their payment arrangements for a stress-free experience.”

Text reminders

Constantly worried about missing a payment? Never fear! Aqua has partnered with Speedpay to give our customers the option to receive text reminders to easily avoid late charges. The text feature sends a message five days before the payment is due, the day it is due, and five days after.

The text reminders also provide a hyperlink that customers can click through to make their payments. Head here to become one of the 14,000 and counting Aqua customers utilizing this convenient text option! 

Daily account balance

You asked, we listened. Our call centers have received a large volume of customers asking for their current account balance over the years, so Aqua decided to make it even easier to check your bill. Simply log onto the Aqua WaterSmart website to view your daily balance. Easy peasy!

One-time payment availability

Previously, only Aqua customers enrolled in e-Billing were able to make a one-time payment via the WaterSmart website. Now, all customers can use this feature to pay bills electronically as many times as they please. We’ve seen an increase in customers utilizing this feature in 2019, and we hope to continue this growth through 2020. 

“Everything proposed, achieved, or rejected is for a better customer experience,” Farnsworth said of all these e-Billing improvements. “These features were all created to provide our customers with more information, faster information, and ease of payment.”

“I am very excited about all the customer enhancements we have implemented this year,” said Georgetta Parisi-Knup, vice president, customer operations. “Offering our customers a wide range of options across multiple platforms is important as we continue to focus on improving our customers’ experience with Aqua.” 

Our customers are always our priority, and we hope these efficient new features make life just a little bit easier. Cheers to a great 2019 and an even better 2020!

 

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