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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Streaming: 10 H2O Flicks to Soak Up

 

People have always had a certain fascination with the water, and for good reason. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered by it, yet we’ve only explored around five percent. We spend our lives surrounded by H2O and know close to nothing about it, so it’s no surprise that this mystery intrigues us. Luckily, movie magic allows us to bring our biggest fears and fantasies to cinematic life. 

Yes, water and the movies go together like R2-D2 and C-3PO. So we’ve collected a list of our Top 10 favorite water-themed movies. You’re going to need to set aside some serious screen time after reading this — and yes, we approve of binge watching.

10. Splash (1984)

Directed by: Ron Howard 

What it’s about: Splash is your typical 1980s rom-com: boy meets mermaid, mermaid finds him in New York City, boy falls in love. Ah, don’t we all remember our first mer-crush?

Why we love it: It’s difficult not to love a movie that combines romance and mermaids.  Plus, it’s the charming film that propelled Tom Hanks into stardom — and let’s face it, everybody’s a sucker for Tom Hanks. 

9. Cocoon (1985)

Directed by: Ron Howard

What it’s about: The fountain of youth might actually be a pool. After a group of senior citizens go for a dip, they feel more energized than they have years. Because...aliens.

Why we love it: Ron Howard taps into the universal desire for youth with this sci-fi drama. Cocoon combines the real-world fear of aging with the galactic escapades we so often fantasize about. Essentially, it’s sci-fi with a heart.

8. Beaches (1988)

Directed by: Garry Marshall 

What it’s about: Based on a novel by Iris Rainer Dart, Beaches follows the lifelong friendship of the free spirited CC Bloom and the uptight Hillary Essex. After (gasp) falling for the same man, they take separate paths. That is until they move in together...

Why we love it: Beaches is like one big emotional rollercoaster. If you’re looking for a heartwarming and tear-jerking chick flick, Beaches won’t let you down.  

7. The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Directed by: Randal Kleiser

What it’s about: Two children, Richard and Emmeline, are marooned on an island in the South Pacific all by themselves.

Why we love it: Easy. It’s a ridiculous guilty pleasure that we love to hate. 

6. Waterworld (1995)

Directed by: Kevin Reynolds

What it’s about: In this post-apocalyptic film, the polar ice caps have melted leaving Earth completely consumed by water. (No, no we’re not talking about An Inconvenient Truth.) When the Mariner arrives in town, a survivor bribes him to bring her to the mythical “Dryland”.

Why we love it: Society’s obsession with dystopian-esque worlds didn’t start with The Hunger Games. The throwback cult classic takes place almost entirely on top of water. Could it be more awesome? Plus, we can’t get enough of Kevin Costner as the invincible, cool guy.

5. The Little Mermaid (1989)

Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker

What it’s about: Ariel simply doesn’t get that it’s better down where it’s wetter, so she trades her beautiful voice for human legs. Once Prince Eric finds her washed ashore, she has three days to receive “a kiss of true love” if she wishes to remain human.

Why we love it: This Disney family film never seems to get old. The upbeat songs, the colorful characters and the happily-ever-after endings just put us in a good mood—and Ariel’s soul searching makes her surprisingly relatable. 

4. The Abyss (1989)

Directed by: James Cameron 

What it’s about: At the height of the Cold War, an American nuclear submarine mysteriously crashes. The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is asked to investigate—could it be extraterrestrial life forms?

Why we love it: One of Cameron’s more underrated films, "The Abyss" allows us to delve further into our underwater sci-fi fantasies. Not to mention, it creates the perfect combo of high-powered action, romance and aliens. Because naturally they go hand-in-hand.

3. Castaway (2000)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

What it’s about: FedEx employee Chuck Noland is marooned on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes somewhere in the South Pacific. Chuck struggles to survive, but gets by with a little help from his...um, friend.

Why we love it: Chuck’s will to return to his beloved girlfriend is inspirational. Moreover, his camaraderie with Wilson is weirdly endearing — you can’t tell us that you didn’t cry when that volleyball floated away.

 2. Jaws (1975) 

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

What it’s about: Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun BOM BOM dun dun dun dun dun dun doo dedoo doo dedoo dede doo dede doo dededoo. Need we say more?

Why we love it: This movie single handedly scared an entire generation away from the ocean. After Jaws was released, our interest in sharks skyrocketed. Shark Week lovers, we’re talking to you! 

1. Titanic (1997)

Directed by: James Cameron

What it’s about: Culture-clash couple Rose and Jack have an unsuspected love that goes a bit...overboard. Their romance is fast and fierce, but is brought to a screeching halt when the Titanic hits an iceberg.

Why we love it: Titanic is an epic love story that most of us only dream of having (minus their fate). And the tragic ending only adds to the intensity of the emotional whirlwind — even though we know you could have fit Jack on that plank of wood with you, Rose! We’ll never let go.

So pour yourself a glass of water, grab some popcorn and queue the Netflix. And while you wait for those classics to load, tell us what your favorite water-themed movie is!

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5 Hacks That Make Drinking More Water Simple

 

We’ve all heard the many wonderful benefits of drinking water: younger skin, a healthier body, more energy, survival — the list goes on. In short, water will turn you into a more beautiful you. 

The rule of thumb is that we’re supposed to drink about 64 ounces daily, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. For those of you who are struggling to meet the quota, these five water hacks can help make downing the recommended dose of H2O as simple as possible.

1. Add some flavor

If you’re one of those people who don’t like to drink plain water, it’s time to get creative. Think of water as a cup of coffee: If you don’t drink it black, you might like it with some cream and sugar (if you don’t like coffee either, then you might need a different kind of help). Anyway, back to water. Try adding flavor to your water with chunks of fruit and herbs. We recommend lemon, orange or mint. If your tendencies cause you to lean toward hand-crafted lattes, as opposed to plain old coffee, you could give a few of these recipes a shot. As it turns out, fruit-infused water is all the rage these days.

2. There’s an app for that 

We know you have a difficult enough time trying to remember where you put your keys, let alone whether or not you managed to drink 8 ounces glasses of water that day. Luckily, we live in a world where there’s an app for absolutely everything, including water consumption. Hydro can help you stay hydrated with friendly reminders, a water consumption calculator and overviews of your drinking habits. Let your phone worry about your hydration habits, so you can focus on finding those keys (check your jacket pockets by the way; that’s where we typically leave ours).

3. Follow a schedule

On paper, 64 ounces of water seems intimidating, but truth be told it’s not that difficult to accomplish. We have faith in all of you. The trick is to set a water drinking schedule for yourself and follow it on a daily basis — and no, you can’t have a “cheat day.” If you want to hit that recommended quota, try drinking 8 to 12 ounces of water at these times every day: 

  • Immediately after waking up in the morning: Be sure to always keep a glass of water at your bedside.
  • Throw back a glass before each meal, and whenever you feel famished. Often, when you feel like you’re “literally starving,” it’s actually just dehydration.
  • At least once during the workday while you’re sitting at your desk. If you’re prone to getting lost in your work, just remember to take a few sips every hour.        
  • When you sit down at the end of the night for a quick-ish binge-watching session of your favorite Netflix show (don’t feel guilty; everyone does this).
  • Before you go to sleep at night. If you can stay up to watch one more Netflix episode, you have time to drink one last glass of water.

The exact amount of water you should consume each day could be more or less than 64 ounces, depending on your lifestyle and size. Experiment to find the amount that makes you feel best, or use a water-intake calculator.

4. Choose your bottle wisely

We all have that one friend who’s always around and willing to hang out. Let’s pretend water is that friend. The two of you are attached at the hip (or should we say sip). You should be bringing water with you everywhere you go, so it’s important that you like what you’re drinking from. Find the bottle that works best for you. If you don’t want to refill constantly, invest in a larger bottle. Buy a heavy-duty one if you tend to lead a more rugged lifestyle. If you’re concerned with style, there are plenty of fashion-forward choices out there. After all, our closest friends are those that we share common interests with, right? The bottom line is that you should be carrying it with you at all times. This way you’ll be more likely to stay sippin’ all day long, not to mention it’s much better for the environment than plastic cups or bottles.  

5. Keep the change 

Whether you’re out for dinner or drinks, substituting water for other beverages can help keep your wallet full and your mind clear. Think about all the money you spend buying beverages while you’re out. Let’s do some quick math:

On average, Americans eat out 4.2 times per week. Since the average meal costs around $13, which includes that $3 drink, we’re essentially spending $12.60 on beverages per week. Drinking water instead could help you save around $57 a month and $680 per year! 

So maybe it’s time to ditch the sugary drinks and stick with a tall glass of H2O. That money you’re spending could be put toward something much more beneficial, like a vacation to Maui, or that personal trainer you’ve wanted to hire. 

Now that we’ve exhausted every one of your excuses, it’s time to drink up!

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Winter Weather Road Treatment and Drinking Water

 

Winter weather can wreak havoc on area roadways and on utility systems, particularly water and electric companies.  The freeze-and-thaw cycle can lead to water main breaks and freezing temperatures can cause indoor plumbing and service lines to freeze, leading to service interruptions and broken pipes inside the home. Frost in the ground, which penetrates deeper when there is no snow cover or when moisture gets in the ground, will add an enormous downward load on pipes causing them to crack; and if shallow enough, to freeze. Ice on tree limbs can create unbearable weight, which can cause them to breach power lines, leading to service outages.  And we all know the potential hazard of driving on roadways that have not been treated for ice.

Municipalities and state highway departments use various forms of salt to keep highways from freezing so vehicles can drive safely. Road salt is commonly made up of some combination of sodium, chloride and calcium, all of which are naturally occurring and can be found in drinking water on any given day. They are not removed through the conventional  drinking water treatment process.

When runoff occurs, as a result of thawing or rain, road salts are washed from the roadways into the ground and surface waters, like rivers, streams and reservoirs. When runoff occurs as a result of a heavy rain, the impact of the salts on the waterways are dissipated by the dilution of the large volume of rain water. The impact of the runoff may also differ based on the size of the watershed area and the size of the affected body of surface water, such as the Delaware River compared to a local stream.

Usually, the impact of the road salts on the drinking water is minimal, with just a few customers who can taste the difference calling the utility. However, if the runoff occurs after a series of road saltings due to multiple storms and the ground remains frozen for an extended period of time, which prevents the percolation of the salt into the ground, the high concentrations of salt running into a small local stream can result in a salty taste to the drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the many state environmental regulatory agencies—including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP)—have no regulatory standards for either sodium or calcium in drinking water.

EPA and many state environmental regulatory agencies—such as PA DEP— have secondary (aesthetic) regulatory standards for chloride. Secondary standards are not considered to have any public health risks.

Primary and secondary drinking water standards are set with the general public in mind. If any customer feels they are an exception to the general public and have a concern about their drinking water, they should contact their primary health care provider for counsel.

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