Environmental Engineering: What is it, Anyway?

This April, all of us at Aqua are focused on environmental sustainability, which means we’re celebrating members of our team who work closely with the environment.

 

There are a lot of different types of engineers out there: mechanical, aerospace, biomedical, civil… the list goes on. Aqua tends to work with one particular type the most: environmental engineers.

OK, so environmental engineers are probably super smart and super environmentally friendly. But what exactly do they do?

To find out, we talked to Pete Kusky, one of Aqua’s very own regional environmental engineers. He gave us the scoop on the art of environmental engineering and the best way to get started on a path toward a career in the field.

 

How would you explain your job as an environmental engineer?

Environmental engineering is typically defined as a field that protects and preserves people and natural resources. At Aqua, we do both.

 

How did you become an environmental engineer? What’s your educational background?

My background is in civil engineering. Environmental engineering is a subset of civil engineering. [I have a] BS and MS in civil engineering, but I learned just as much while in operations at Aqua.

 

On a day-to-day basis, what type of environmental engineering projects do you work on at Aqua?

Everything we do involves stewardship. Whether it is optimizing treatment processes for environmental compliance or upgrading infrastructure with the best available technology, everything drives toward protecting our most vital resources: water and people.

 

What aspect of environmental sustainability is nearest and dearest to you?

 Making decisions that are truly a benefit to our stakeholders.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring environmental engineers?

Start at the bottom and don’t be too anxious to get to the top – no job should be beneath you. Everyone you encounter, including those who you believe are experts in environmental engineering are simply guides along your path. Your aggregated experiences are as important as any individual’s absolutes.

 

What about students who may not have considered the field before?

Life is a journey you can’t predict. Consider environmental engineering if you have a desire to make sound decisions based on good data.

 

So there you have it. Environmental engineers use technology and data to optimize sustainability and environmental preservation, whether through the infrastructure of water or other vital resources.

How will you up your eco-friendliness throughout the rest of the month? Let us know in the comments! 

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Wonder Women in Worldwide Water Infrastructure

Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring women past and present whose commitment, knowledge and achievements have left lasting marks on the world.  

 Women are particularly impactful in the water industry, whether they work with our most precious resource here in the United States or abroad. Between developing infrastructure projects, performing important scientific research, or finding ways to provide clean water to those in need, countless women make global change every day in the realm of water. 

Dr. Deepthi Wickremasinghe, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

 

Honorable Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation of South Africa

 

Rehema Bavuma, Katosi Women Development Trust, Uganda

 

Khin Ni Ni Thein, Myanmar woman water professional

 

Emma Anakhasyan, Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment

 What other women – besides all the ladies here at Aqua, of course – are doing important work in the water industry? Tell us which water wonder women inspire you!   

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Aqua Indiana Contributes $1,500 To Washington Township/Avon Fire Department

Avon, IN — Aqua Indiana (Aqua) presented a $1,500 charitable contribution to the Washington Township/Avon Fire Department on February 8th. The local fire department consists of 57 full-time firefighters and 9 full-time administrative staff. The department protects and serves residents of Washington Township in Hendricks County, Indiana, including Aqua customers in its Hendricks County wastewater division.

Fire Chief Dan Smith and other members of the department gratefully accepted the contribution. Chief Smith thanked Aqua for its generous support and said that the donation would specifically help Station 142, which is an Aqua customer.

“Aqua is proud of the community partnerships we’ve established with organizations like the Washington Township Fire Department,” said Aqua Area Manager Kieran Tansy. “We take great pride in supporting the dozens of volunteers who protect the communities we serve. Aqua knows firsthand the importance of the specialized training it takes to perform our jobs, and we’re thankful to help support the fire department’s ongoing efforts.” 

Aqua Indiana operates 11 utility systems in 11 counties and provides water and wastewater service to more than 80,000 people throughout the state. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information, or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.

 

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Aqua Illinois Donates to Local Career Development Initiative and Food Pantry

Aqua Illinois Kankakee Area Manager Melissa Kahoun recently presented a $1,000 check to the Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education (CHEE), a locally-based initiative with a mission to “prepare a college and career-ready workforce to meet employment needs in Kankakee County,” according to its website.

CHEE is a collaborative effort between the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County and the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley. Its role as a facilitator for “collaboration between industry and education” begins by working with local stakeholders, such as the Kankakee Community College, to “ensure industry’s needs for a workforce.”

Much of their work centers on reaching out to the community via job fairs and local events to educate students on STEM, career paths and hiring opportunities in the area. Aqua Illinois is one of many corporate sponsors supporting the effort.

“CHEE provides students a chance to learn and develop skills they may otherwise not be interested in focusing on,” Kahoun said. “It’s important that we, as a utility company, support these efforts and partner with an organization whose mission is to provide more knowledge and growth opportunities for students.”

In addition to Kankakee’s contributions, Illinois’ Northern Regional Supervisor Patrick Wren and Area Manager Joel Gehrett presented a check for $1,000 to Maine Township, a newly acquired system in Cook County. The donation went to the Maine Township Food Pantry, which “provides food on an emergency basis to persons living in the greater Maine Township area,” according to MaineTownship.com.

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Aqua Appoints Deborah Watkins As New Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance

Aqua has hired Deborah Watkins as its new Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance. Watkins replaces Colleen Arnold, who became the company’s deputy chief operating officer in September of last year.

Watkins comes to the company with more than 30 years of experience, most recently as senior project manager at O’Brien & Gere, an engineering firm with advanced manufacturing, energy, environmental, and water services.  She was responsible for identifying, developing, and managing initiatives involving water and wastewater treatment facility consultation, design, construction, and regulatory permitting. Prior to working for O’Brien & Gere, Watkins spent several years at Weston Solutions, Inc. where she began her career as a technical director of engineering.  She was promoted to vice president after successful development of the pharmaceutical industry practice and subsequent development of the upstream oil and gas practice in the company’s Mid-Atlantic division.

“We are pleased to have someone with Deborah’s experience and education lead our environmental compliance team at Aqua,” said Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer Mike Pickel, to whom Deborah will report.

Watkins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Bucknell University and a Master of Science degree in water resources and environmental engineering at Villanova University. She is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

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