A Message of Thanks to Aqua Volunteers


Caption: Kim Joyce volunteering in Panama via a partnership between Aqua America and Villanova University.

By Aqua Vice President of Regulatory, Government and External Affairs, Kim Joyce

April is National Volunteer Month. In recognition of this month, organizations, companies and individuals in cities all over the nation make an extra effort to thank volunteers, sign up new ones and contribute to causes that matter.

As someone serving on the committee to help roll out and oversee our Community Volunteerism Program, I’m proud to acknowledge our employees’ commitment to volunteerism. This dedication is what inspired us to launch the program last year.

Aqua’s volunteerism program organizes community outreach events that allow our employees to connect with one another. Plenty of Aqua employees and their families can be found serving communities across the eight states we serve.

Some examples that highlight the wide array of volunteer activities in which Aqua employees have participated and continue to participate include:

In line with our mission to supply communities with clean water, Aqua Illinois has participated in the state’s Adopt-a-River program for 15 years. As part of the program, volunteers have worked to clean up the Kankakee River, which sources one of our water treatment plants.

In North Carolina, our crews responded quickly when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked Aqua to supply clean drinking water to more than two dozen homes with contaminated wells. We were proud to expedite this process in order to minimize the negative impact on the Wake Forest community.

By planting more than 620 new trees in one day, volunteers from Aqua Pennsylvania connected with local conservationists and residents to bring plenty of fresh air to the Perkiomen Creek Watershed.

To help promote fire safety, something we care about deeply at Aqua, our Ohio employees help to install fire alarms and teams across our states have focused on fundraising for various local fire department. It makes us proud to support brave men and women who often volunteer to risk their lives protecting our communities.

In New Jersey, our team biked from “City to Shore” for several years to raise awareness and funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Our employees in Virginia took their love of water to a bass fishing tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Hats off to Aqua Indiana employees who participated in South Haven’s Team Up to Clean Up event on Earth Day. Several Aqua employees volunteered to ready the community parks for the new season. They helped install bike racks, benches and grills at the parks, and re-installed fencing and a gate.

Finally, Aqua Texas sponsored and took part in the Wimberley Village Library summer reading program, which provides families an opportunity to discover and develop the joy of reading.

Whether as part of a company event or due to a personal dedication to a cause, every volunteer effort made by our Aqua employees is an effort that matters.

Why We Volunteer

Providing exceptional water service to our customers includes all aspects of making their communities better places to live. At Aqua, we strongly believe that volunteerism is a vital part of that commitment to each and every community.

As National Volunteer Month comes to a close, please join me in thanking our employees—and all the other volunteers in your lives—for their service both in and outside the office. Together, they create a positive impact that not only benefits our communities, but also inspires us all to continue giving back to the people we serve.

 

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5 Water Hacks You Won’t Believe

 

Plenty of tasks are made possible through water: traveling, cooking, cleaning, surviving and everything in between. However, sometimes a burst of pure genius strikes and we discover new, innovative ways to utilize Earth’s most precious resource. Below you will find five out-of-the-box, water-based solutions to everyday problems.

Disclaimer: Though these uses for water are fascinating and mesmerizing, we have not tested them ourselves, and therefore, we are not encouraging you to try them. Instead, we only want to showcase the unique and unconventional ways in which people have utilized water to address ordinary challenges.

Keep Reusable Water Bottles Cool

Few things are more infuriating than attempting to force ice cubes into a water bottle. Many bottles are just too narrow, and nobody wants to drink lukewarm water. So, is there a solution to this dilemma? Apart from crushing the ice cubes or buying a reusable bottle with a bigger opening, there may be a surefire smart solution for those water bottle woes. Just fill the bottle a quarter of the way full, rest it on its side in the freezer overnight and fill the remainder of the bottle up with water in the morning. Ahhhh, refreshingly cool hydration for hours! 

Car Dented? No Problem!

Stressed out over the fender bender that's left a dent in your rear bumper? One innovative fixer-upper discovered a way to remove dents with little more than boiling water and plunger. It seems this method would only work for newer models of cars with plastic bumpers, as it is quite unlikely that steel cold be shaped by a toiler plunger, but it's still a fascinating concept.

Speed Dry a Manicure

Waiting around for a manicure to dry is both a frustrating and boring use of time. What if you get an itch on your nose or desperately need to go to the bathroom? Any sudden movements are a potential threat to newly polished nails. Interestingly, some people have turned to water—really, really cold water—to dry manicures quickly. Apparently, placing your fresh manicure into a bowl of ice cold water for three minutes is one way to dry the polish all the way through.

DIY Storm Lanterns

When the power goes out, smartphone flashlights tend to come on. However, the light from a cellphone only beams upward and provides minimal lighting at best. Shining a phone's flashlight beam through a clear container full of water makes for much more efficient storm lighting since the light beam refracts through the water molecules and disperses.

(Safely!) Start a Fire

Did you know it's possible to start a fire with a water bottle and a piece of paper? They may not teach this in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, but some have figured out how to ignite a fire using the rays of the sun and a bottle of water. While it certainly isn't as simple as using a lighter, this strategy for starting a campfire is definitely impressive. (But be careful, OK?)

New, creative and innovative ways to solve problems with water come to light every single day. What are some of the coolest things you or someone you know has done with water?

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DIY Cleaning Products: Creating a Cleaner Spring

 

Spring cleaning season is here! It’s time for opening windows, reorganizing clutter and freshening up our homes.

Surprisingly, many of the products we use to clean our living spaces do just the opposite: They make our homes a less fresh place to live. Some materials contained in household cleaners are among the top environmental dangers threatening our health, and manufacturers often use harsh or toxic chemicals in their products, putting consumers at risk.

Here’s the good news, though: You can create your own cleaning products using natural ingredients—like water—from home. These supplies can disinfect and eliminate messes as needed, and they’re better for your health and safety. Plus, these simple recipes also help you save money!

What You’ll Need

Many ingredients used in DIY cleaning products are probably in your cupboards already. Common household cleaning agents include:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Castile soap
  • Essential oils
  • Lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Natural dish soap
  • Citric acid
  • Hydrogen peroxide

What to Do

There are dozens of creative options to make the cleaning solution that’s right for you, but here are three of our favorites.

 

Drain Cleaner: Some commercial drain cleaners can damage your pipes and cause chemical burns. To avoid these products, pour equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar into your drain. Allow time for these gentle ingredients to break down clogs, and then flush with boiling water.

Mold and Mildew Remover: While your instinct may be to use harsh cleaners to combat unhealthy mold and mildew, this simple mixture will do the trick. In a 24-ounce spray bottle, mix two cups of water and two teaspoons of tea-tree oil. Generously spray the affected area and let sit for 24 hours. Next, mix the solution into 1/4 cup of baking soda until a paste forms. Scrub the area with the paste and rinse.

Water Bottle Fizzies: Reusable water bottles are great for the environment, but their tall physique can make them difficult to clean. In a small bowl, mix one cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of citric acid and 1/4 cup of salt. Next, gradually mix in one teaspoon of natural dish soap and 1/2 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Scoop into equal pieces on parchment paper and let dry overnight.

When you’re ready to clean, simply drop a tablet in your water bottle, give it a shake, and rinse!

Tips and Tricks

Be careful what you mix. The pH balance of some ingredients can cancel the effects of others, making your mixture ineffective. If you’re recycling old product containers, be certain to clean out bottles and spray nozzles thoroughly to prevent unwanted chemical reactions.

Label your creations and keep them out of reach of children and pets. This is a good precaution with all cleaning products. Unlabeled bottles can also lead you to make frustrating mistakes like spraying furniture polish on your windows.

Don’t make more than what you need. The average shelf life of natural cleaning products is one month or less. Store ingredients separately and mix as needed for a fresher clean.

Which DIY cleaner are you eager to try? Have any cleaning recipes of your own? Tell us in a Facebook comment or on Twitter!

 

 

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Aqua Illinois Focuses on Carrying Out Our Mission

World Water Day was one week ago today! This annual event, which focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of fresh water resources, falls on March 22 every year. It is Aqua’s mission to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource: water. In recognition of World Water Day, we are spotlighting the efforts being put forth by one of Aqua’s eight state operations. Aqua Illinois Regional Environmental Compliance Manager Kevin Culver is passionate about Aqua Illinois’ efforts to execute our mission; this is his story.

 

Water quality and water sustainability are incredibly important to the team at Aqua Illinois. As the regional environmental compliance manager, I am responsible for maintaining a high standard of water quality, carrying out our source water protection plan, and overseeing our company’s environmental efforts to improve the water sources close to home. 

 

At Aqua, we believe that the cleaner the source water, the better the drinking water quality for our customers. At most of our facilities, we do not control the water sources or land adjacent to them, so we must rely on our customers and partners to assist us with keeping our water as clean as possible. To better ensure success in this area, Aqua Illinois organizes and participates in various outreach and education efforts. Some of these are specifically aimed at local youth, because we believe that children can get involved and bring home a lasting message that what they do in their back yard will impact their water or someone else’s water downstream.

Aqua Illinois participates in various local educational opportunities such as the Kankakee Valley Park District Outdoor Show and The Pause for Patriotism community event.

Aqua Illinois participates in various local educational opportunities such as the Kankakee Valley Park District Outdoor Show and the Pause for Patriotism community event. 

 

Specifically, Aqua Illinois focuses a lot of attention on maintaining and enhancing the water quality of the Kankakee River. The Kankakee River is our water source for nearly 80,000 customers. Aqua Illinois works to raise awareness and educate the local community, lawmakers and the farming community, about the importance of the Kankakee River, not only as a water source, but as a natural resource to the entire area. Among the valuable information we have shared with the community about the river is the impact that nutrient runoff has on drinking water quality. One example of how our education efforts have worked is that farmers in our local areas are now planting cover crops and significantly reducing nutrient runoff.

Aqua Illinois assists with clean-up efforts at local rivers and lakes.

 Aqua Illinois assists with clean-up efforts at local rivers and lakes. 

 

To expand our education efforts and reach a larger audience, Aqua Illinois participates in various watershed conferences, including the recent Kankakee River Watershed Conference, which took place Feb. 10 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. These types of events give us great exposure and allow us to send our operators, engineers and area managers to connect with attendees and share their knowledge with larger groups of people. Aqua is serious about its commitment to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource, and the company as a whole takes pride in all of its efforts to achieve this commitment.

With the assistance of the teachers at Kankakee Trinity Academy, Kevin Culver provides a hands-on lesson on how to collect macro-invertebrates for the students.

With the assistance of the teachers at Kankakee Trinity Academy, Kevin Culver provides a hands-on lesson on how to collect macro-invertebrates for the students. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Reminder on World Water Day

A flow test is completed for a proposed water supply for a school in Waslala, Nicaragua.

By Aqua President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Franklin

Every year, the United Nations’ World Water Day serves as a reminder that access to clean, safe water is a struggle for many communities throughout the world. For 663 million people – double the number of people living in the United States – water sources may be scarce, contaminated or far away. In fact, many people trek to streams and rivers with buckets and horses to carry home enough water for just one day.

This World Water Day, I’m reflecting on Aqua America’s mission to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource - water, and the part our employees are playing to bring quality drinking water to homes in other areas of the world.

Our efforts to make a positive difference stem from a combination of our corporate giving and volunteerism programs. It’s part of my commitment, our senior team’s commitment, and our employees’ commitment to be caring corporate citizens for the neighborhoods we serve, and those internationally that can benefit from our expertise.

So in 2016, we took our mission global and partnered with Villanova University to provide better access to water in communities in Nicaragua and Panama.  

In Nicaragua, we are working with Villanova engineering professors and students, as well as the local community, to build a water distribution system for the people in Kasquita. Currently, the 140 people living in this very isolated town use surface water from one of three nearby streams for all their needs.

A flow test is completed on the two springs that combined make up one water source for Kasquita, Nicaragua.

Aqua employees were on site in Kasquita earlier this month to participate in the groundbreaking on this project. During the trip, we worked to provide the rock base for two spring sources, which will act as the main water supply for the town, and surveyed the town to see if higher elevation homes could potentially be served by the system.

The location where our group stayed, which is home to a couple and their seven children. 

While this project will take a while to complete, we are excited at the prospect of providing a fully-functioning water distribution system to people who need it. For the people of Kasquita, this project is life-changing. Not only will it eliminate the need to use surface water, it will create a household connection to each home in the town. It’s also transformative for the Aqua employees participating in the project. They have lived and worked with the families who will be served by the water system, learning from them and listening to the appreciation they have firsthand.

The backyard and water source of a home in Kasquita, Nicaragua.

While this project is just in the beginning stages, it certainty won’t be the last project we have in Nicaragua. Aqua team members are already participating in project evaluations to provide reliable, clean water to the children’s local school centers. 

In Panama, we are working with Villanova to enhance a water system currently providing water on an alternating basis to half the population in the town of Agua Fría every other day. Over the 2016 holiday season, we provided supervision as Villanova students and local community members fixed a water collection tank, removing concerns of structural integrity and the potential for leaks. Now that the tank repairs are in place, we plan to join Villanova in an upcoming trip to Panama to replace supply lines that will allow each household in the community to have access to water each and every day.

Not only will the people of these remote regions in Nicaragua and Panama have daily access to running water in their homes, but the water will also be filtered to ensure it is potable for cooking, drinking, cleaning, bathing and so on. This eliminates any potential health risks from surface water that can be contaminated with chemicals, particulates and bacteria.

It’s important to me that we share our time, treasure and talents to make the world a better place. It’s is humbling to work with Villanova University to provide mentorship to the next generation of engineers and to bring water to more people.  Last week, four students presented their project work at a lunch n’ learn event for our employees. Hearing these budding engineers talk about how our projects are leading them down new service-oriented paths they never imagined allows us to recognize that we’re making a difference in central America, and also, in the lives of these students.

The next generation of Villanova University engineers shared their experiences with Aqua in Bryn Mawr.

Access to clean, safe water is something many of us take for granted. On World Water Day, I challenge you to consider the ways you use water, and reflect on how you can join with us to protect Earth’s most essential resource.

 

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