Get to Know Aqua: Estimator Paul Gabage

1.    My name is: Paul Gabage

2.    When I was a kid, my nickname was: Paulie

3.    My title is: Estimator

4.    That means I (do what?): I create the cost estimates for the design planning of the capital infrastructure improvements.

5.    I work with water for a living, but my favorite water-related activity is: Painting with watercolors.

6.    If I had to pick three words to describe myself, they’d be: Passionate, musician, artist

7.    Favorite weekend activity: spending time with friends

8.    Since I work at water utility, people always ask me: why I don’t do artwork for a living. I answer them: “You do know why they call them starving artists, right?”

9.    Since I started working at Aqua, the most fun I experienced was: Putting together a band with my coworkers.

10.I love water, because: Without it I can’t use my water colors.

11.The most interesting thing I’ve crossed off my “Bucket List” is: I haven’t been able to cross anything off my bucket list yet. I’ll keep you posted on big things to come!

12.My coworkers don’t know this, but I’m actually a big fan of: country music

13.In the summer, you can find me: In an air-conditioned room. I never was a fan of summer.

14.Favorite childhood toy: drums

15.When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be: A drummer for a rock band

16.Do you have any pets? (Name, Age, Type): We have three Doxies: Molly, 11, Abbey, 10, and Jake, 7.

17.The last time I dressed up for Halloween I went as: A guy with hair!

18.If I could be one movie character, I would be: Batman because who doesn’t want to be Batman?? Even Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” wants to be Batman!

19.My favorite “guilty pleasure” snack is: Dark chocolate

20.Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on: Julia Roberts

21.If I weren’t working at Aqua, I would be: A drawing teacher, a portrait artist or a professional musician.

22.What do you like to do outside of work: Enjoy time with my wife!

23.When did you first start your art: I have been drawing ever since I can remember, so I can say since kindergarten. I’ll never forget the smell and enjoyment from finger painting. I found that everything I saw I wanted to draw.

24.What inspires you: I am inspired by everything visual and musical. Reproducing the models essence is what inspires me as well as creating a meaning and a defining storyline within the composition. My music is a different experience of inspiration. I enjoy being a part of the process as a team in creating original music that moves individuals emotionally and brings them to their feet in enjoyment.

25.What kind of artwork do you gravitate toward: I gravitate toward portrait and figurative artwork. The masters’ works, such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Degas, and Merritt Chase — to name a few — are truly inspirational.

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Employee Spotlight - Eileen Laird

Aqua New Jersey employee, Eileen Laird, was awarded First Place in the Figure Masters Division at the NPC (National Physique Committee) Eastern USA Championships at the end of October.  The NPC is the amateur bodybuilding division of the International Federation of Body Building. Eileen works in Hamilton, New Jersey as an administrative assistant for state president, Nicholas Asselta.

Eileen has been a Master Figure Athlete with Bombshell Fitness for three years and takes her water consumption very seriously. She drinks between a gallon and a gallon-and-a-half of water each day when preparing for a competition.

“I trust Aqua to give me the best quality water, all day, everyday,”  she said. “My water consumption is crucial to my stamina and endurance in and out of the gym.”


Eileen wasn’t always so disciplined. A few years ago, at age 50, she was in danger of developing adult-onset diabetes as well as osteoporosis. Rather than letting her situation worsen, she made some dietary adjustments, purchased a treadmill and started lifting a few weights in her basement.

In 2013, after a year of training on her own and improving her health, Eileen was inspired by her newfound hobby. She needed a new obstacle to overcome (and check a box off of her bucket list), so she entered her a bodybuilding competition. With help from Gennifer Strobo of Bombshell Fitness, an IFBB professional, she started down a road that led to her passion.

Today, Eileen is a fitness competition regular. She has competed in numerous events, most recently attended the Eastern USA Championship and won first place in the Women’s Figure Master Over 50 division (she also came in fifth in a separate division). She is a nationally qualified NPC athlete and is already preparing for the 2016 championship. 

Outside of her decorated competition career, Eileen’s passion has also led to partnerships with Revolutionary Technology Nutrition, a fitness supplement company, and Elite 1 Fit Gear, an athletic apparel company. She also still works with Bombshell Fitness as one of their specialist.

“I love what I do and I am blessed to be in the best shape of my life instead of struggling with feeling over the hill,” Eileen said. “I have gained strength physically as well as mentally and I hope to inspire others to work to improve their health and general well-being through proper nutrition and exercise.

She added, “as a result of these lifestyle changes, I have reversed the threat of diabetes and no longer fear osteoporosis or growing older. Age is truly just a number. My number one answer when asked what one fitness tip is most important, I always say drink more water!”

A mother of three, Eileen also has received her black belt in Tang So Doo Karate and enjoys cooking and riding with her husband, Tom, on his Harley.


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What We're Thankful For

It's that time of year again! 
As we all sit around the dinner table for Thanksgiving with family and friends to recognize what we are most thankful for, the Aqua team would like to thank the people who make clean and accessible water a possibility: our employees. Their dedication to their trade helps build a stronger and more reliable water infrastructure and a closer bond with the customers we serve.
With winter weather approaching, our crews will work tirelessly to respond to emergencies and ensure water service through even the harshest of polar vortexes. We are thankful for our employees' hard-work and daily commitment to excellent service in some times unpredictable conditions, long hours and plenty of service requests.
Whether you work in the lab, at a call center, or out in the field, we can not thank you enough for your work. Happy Thanksgiving! 
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Fat, Oil and Grease - Oh My!

Don’t let fat, oil and grease get the best of your household pipes this Thanksgiving season.  Let Aqua and Gus the Grease Monster show you how to avoid costly clogs. Food scraps, grease and disposable wipes can block pipes and cause wastewater backups in homes and businesses. Check out our tips to dodge the whole mess! 


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Kankakee River Clean-Up

On September 20th, Aqua Illinois held this year’s second river clean-up event at the Kankakee River. The clean-up was a part of the Adopt-a-River program in which “foster parents” are responsible for a designated section of a river to clean twice a year. Aqua Illinois has been involved with Adopt-a-River program for the past 13 years.


This year, the clean-up was led and organized by Joel Mingus. He’s been involved for the past 5 years, this year being his second in organizing the event. In regards to the Kankakee River, which serves as a source for one of Aqua’s water treatment plants, Mingus commented, “Aqua’s support of this event reinforces the importance we place on the environment and our water source.” Aqua employees Kevin Culver, Don Denault, Tori Mury, Sean Culver, Kyle McKay and Sonia Fisher also helped out.


This Year’s Team


Mingus’ team comprised of Aqua Illinois employees, local residents and a Boy Scout troop scoured their mile of the river for litter. The team rid Kankakee of the usual wrappers, bottles, cans, plastic bags and other litter. What was more interesting, however, was how they came across pieces of a dilapidated dock and a relatively intact aluminum boat in the midst of their venture! This only goes to show the importance of the two clean-ups per year due to the random debris that can pop up at any given time.

These clean-ups are not only important, they’re also super fun! The biannual clean-up appears to be enticing to all ages as Joel’s kids took part in their second year this time around! “Our kids loved helping. They did get sidetracked by the shells and flowers, but they enjoyed spending time around the river,” he said. What’s great about having kids involved is the opportunity to educate them on the importance of clean water and a healthy environment.


Another Successful Clean-up

It was a successful day, according to Mingus. The kids had fun, the Kankakee River got a much-needed cleaning and Aqua Illinois was able to continue providing clean water to the area.

An event like Adopt-a-River is what Aqua America strives for in providing clean water and encourages you to get involved in. To find out how you can get involved with the Adopt-a-River program, head over to their site!

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