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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Get To Know Aqua: Engineer Derek Sutton

Carmel’s internationally famous roundabouts are helping Derek and Petra Sutton feel at home in Indiana. They are daily reminders of the couple’s life in Sweden. 

The Suttons recently moved from Stockholm to Carmel after Derek signed on as the statewide engineer for Aqua Indiana, owner and operator of both public drinking water and wastewater systems in several Hoosier communities.   

“We moved back to the Indianapolis area to be close to my family,” Sutton explains. “Carmel felt like the best fit for us due to our passion for enjoying the outdoors. Carmel has done a great job of building biking and walking trails similar to those in Europe and around Stockholm. You feel more comfortable being out when there is separation from the heavy traffic here in Indiana.”

Derek had already established his career in water systems engineering when a chance meeting changed his future. While vacationing in Florida, he met Petra, a native of Finland, who was enjoying sunshine over the Christmas holiday. Love blossomed, adventure called, and Sutton found himself working as a consultant on water projects in Sweden.

Sweden, about the size of California, is home to 9.7 million people. Enjoying nature is more than just part of Swedish culture, it’s a right that Swedes take seriously. The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) means everyone is entitled to hike through forests and fields to pick berries and mushrooms without asking the landowner’s permission. Visitors have an obligation to respect the natural environment and private property.

Derek Sutton says this environmental ethos carries over to attitudes about water, which covers 9 percent of Sweden’s total landmass. “Swedes expect water to be pure and clean. They believe you should be able to drink from lakes or streams. Tap water is actually preferred over bottled water, which is hard to find.” 

Irrigated lawns are as rare in Sweden as traffic roundabouts are in most of Indiana – except Carmel. Sutton says he and Petra enjoy the roundabouts. “They are predominant in the suburbs of Stockholm.” His engineer’s brain appreciates the continuous traffic flow and the fact that roundabouts slow traffic to safer speeds. “We do miss Sweden’s public transportation. The bus, train, rail and subway system around Stockholm is awesome. You can live without a car there.”

Sutton says personal satisfaction from helping to improve Hoosier communities eased his relocation back to Indiana. “Working for Aqua as an engineer and project manager over infrastructure improvements is exactly what I find rewarding. If you’re interested in a career that provides a real sense that you are helping the community and serving in the best interest of the public, then a water-related career is a great option.”

The adjustment to Indiana’s culture for his Nordic wife has been eased by getting acquainted with Swedes who live in the Carmel area. They meet regularly and “There is even a Swedish school that meets on Sundays for the children to stay active in the language and culture. Most are Eli Lilly transplants here on working assignments.” The Suttons were surprised to meet a Finnish woman with a family connection who lives nearby. “Petra and this woman’s husband are distant relatives and from neighboring villages in Finland. They were both able to find one another in genealogy records.”

A trip to the supermarket or restaurants is another opportunity for contrasting cultures. In Sweden, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and caviar are commonly sold in tubes. And at restaurants, Sutton says, “Swedish food has more fish than the typical Hoosier menu. But the best part of the Swedish cuisine is the diversity available from the immigrants that call Sweden home. There is Thai, Lebanese, Greek, Balkan and many others available that are so good. I did miss Mexican, though. Indiana has better Mexican.”

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Get To Know Aqua: Area Manager Melissa Kahoun

1. My name is…Melissa Kahoun         

2. When I was a kid, my nickname was…Shasha – this is how my youngest sister ended up pronouncing Melissa

3. My title is...Area Manager

4. That means I (do what?)…I have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Aqua’s water and wastewater assets in the Kankakee and Will County Divisions. 

5. If I had to pick 3 words to describe myself, they’d be…Dedicated, Empathetic, Honest

6. Favorite weekend activity: Biking (mountain or road biking)

7. Since I started working at Aqua, the most fun I experienced was…Attending a Kankakee Community College sustainability expo.  Aqua had a source water protection booth setup and I was explaining why macro-invertebrates are so important to the river to a little girl and before she left with her dad, she ran up to me and gave me a great big hug – made my heart melt!

8. I love water, because…without it I would not exist!

9. The most interesting thing I’ve crossed off my “Bucket List” is…Running a half marathon – not because I completed one but because my doctor told me my body and running don’t agree with one another.  I came close though…. 

10. In the summer, you can find me...In the woods (camping, biking, hiking)

11. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be...A veterinarian.  My dream job would be running an animal rescue facility.

12. Do you have any pets? I have a cat named Little Kitty 

13. If I could be one movie character, I would be...because...Laura Croft because in the movie Tomb Raider she was an extremely intelligent woman and tough as nails.  Two incredibly awesome traits.

14. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on…Gerard Butler

15. If I weren’t working at Aqua, I would be…Probably married to Gerard Butler!

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Get To Know Aqua: Executive Assistant Jennifer Knotts

Get to know Aqua and the employees that work day in and day out to provide quality customer service and reliable drinking water to approximately 3 million customers. In this week’s ‘Employee Highlight,’ we spoke to Executive Assistant, Jennifer Knotts. 

1. My name is… Jennifer Knotts. I am married to my husband, Shae, and I have two boys, Jared and Gavin. They are my whole world!

2. My title is... Executive Assistant 

3. That means I (do what?)… I do a little bit of everything, payables, payroll, planning events, doing administrative work for the office or Tom Bruns (Aqua Indiana President), handling customers, handling customer accounts for Western Hancock Utilities, Wymberly, Chimneywood and Heir Industries, serving as back up for Fran Paul when she is out of the office for Hendricks and Darlington, reviewing aging reports, doing certified letters for Shut Off Not for Nonpayments (SONP) and working with Field Services Representatives (FSR) out in the field. 

4. I work with water for a living, but my favorite water related activity is... Swimming. I really like going to water parks with my children.

5. If I had to pick 3 words to describe myself, they’d be… Kind, dedicated and organized.

6. Since I started working at Aqua, the most fun I experienced was… The 360 Team Building Dinner in Fort Wayne.  We had to work as a team and it was fun and enjoyable to see co-workers out of the office, laughing and having a great time!

7. The most interesting thing I’ve crossed off my “Bucket List” is… Getting a tattoo. Mine is a Dolphin.

8. My co-workers don’t know this, but I’m actually a big fan of... Disney, Eeyore and Little Mermaid are my favorite. Anytime I can go to Walt Disney World – I will. 

9. In the summer, you can find me... Outside hiking, coaching soccer or spending time with my family.

10. Favorite childhood toy was…. I did not really care for toys I enjoyed the big boxes my dad would bring home from work and we would build forts out of them.

11. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be... FBI Agent

12. Do you have any pets? (Name, Age, Type) Yes, we have two Miniature Schnauzers. One boy 2 years old and one girl 4 years old. Dex and Dakota.

13. If I could be one movie character, I would be...because... A pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean. It just seemed like a great movie and so much fun!

14. My favorite “guilty pleasure” snack is… Chocolate and Peanut Butter (Twix, Reese’s, or Reese Sticks)

15. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on… Johnny Depp

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Get to Know Aqua: Records and Information Supervisor Matt Straff

Get to know Aqua and the employees that work day in and day out to provide quality customer service and reliable drinking water to approximately 3 million customers. In this week’s ‘Employee Highlight,’ we spoke to Records and Information Supervisor, Matt Straff.

1. My name is… Matt Straff 

2.When I was a kid, my nickname was… Ice Man. I enjoy the cold.

3. My title is... Records and Information Supervisor

4. That means I (do what?)... Try to help employees find their records when they need to reference them years down the road. 

5. I work with water for a living, but my favorite water related activity is... lying in the water rafts all day at Seacrets, in Ocean City, Maryland

6.Since I work at water utility, people always ask me... If I can get them free water, in which I reply “Only at restaurants”

7. I love water, because... it quenches my thirst and is my go-to drink.  I also love walking outside in the rain.

8. My co-workers don’t know this, but I’m actually a big fan of... Star Wars!  Wait, people might know that if they’ve walked into my office.

9. Favorite childhood toy? I think it was called “rami”, but I’m not sure.  It had these colored balls that you would have to move levers to drop them into their coordinating numbered designation.  Later in life, I found out the game was just a sneaky way to teach me to count in binary.

10. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be… Racecar driver or a firefighter.  I must have had a thing for Nomex hoods.

11. If I could be one movie character, it would be... a role that Harrisson Ford played, Han Solo or Indiana Jones, because I would enjoy the adventures they get into.  Realistically, I would be the government guy at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, hiding the Ark in the archive warehouse.

12. My favorite “guilty pleasure” snack is… The two pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But I’m not guilty about that at all… 

13. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on... Britney Spears.  Our relationship changed a lot after she shaved her head and went crazy though.

14. If I weren’t working at Aqua, I would be... working at the family business and probably fixing their computers when they break every day.

15. Aside from water, my favorite drink is… Innis and Gunn’s Rum Cask Oak Aged beer.

 

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