Aqua Illinois Appoints Colton Janes as Director of Operations

Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette has announced the appointment of Colton Janes as the state director of operations. In his new role, Janes will oversee operations for all three service regions in Illinois and support plans for continued growth within the state.

Janes previously served as the central area manager for Aqua North Carolina, where he managed nearly 400 water and wastewater systems across 10 counties.

“Colton knows water and wastewater systems from design through operation,” said Blanchette. “Just as important, he understands that our customers are at the center of everything we do, and he doesn’t stop working until they’re satisfied. That’s the high standard of service Colton delivered for Aqua in North Carolina, and that’s the service he’ll provide to families right here in Illinois.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Janes designed water and wastewater systems for an engineering firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. He later operated water and wastewater systems on the North Carolina coast. His career progressed to municipal operations, where he oversaw capital improvement programs and managed new construction. Janes grew up on a farm in Stillman Valley, Ogle County, Illinois, where his family owned a water and wastewater contract operating company. Janes became involved in the industry at an early age when he visited plants with his father, a now-retired wastewater system operator. 

“I’m proud to come home to Illinois and remain part of the Aqua family,” said Janes. “Our skilled and experienced team works hard to deliver quality water and dependable service every day, and we’re committed to maintaining and improving our water and wastewater systems so we can serve generations to come.”

Janes is a licensed professional engineer and is certified in Illinois as a class 2 wastewater operator and a class B well and surface water operator. Janes and his wife, Jecca, live in Bourbonnais.

Aqua Illinois provides water and wastewater service to more than 63,000 homes and businesses in Boone, Champaign, Cook, Dekalb, Kane, Kankakee, Knox, Lake, Ogle, Vermilion, Will and Winnebago counties. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information, or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.

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Imposter Alert: Protect Yourself and Your Belongings

Aqua recently learned of an incident involving a man identifying himself as a water company employee to gain access into a customer’s home and steal their belongings. Aqua would like to use this unfortunate event as an opportunity to remind our customers about this issue so you’re more aware in the future.

 

Imagine it’s the early morning and you’re home alone. A man outside identifies himself as a water company employee. He says there are leaks in your area, and he’s checking the homes on your street and needs to check your meter and the inside pipes. Once inside, he asks you to run water in the util­ity sink as he checks the upstairs bathroom sink. While upstairs, he steals jewelry and money left on a dresser.

 

In most cases, the only time Aqua would need to be inside your home is to service or exchange a meter or to respond to a problem about which you called us. In the former case, Aqua would contact you by mail or phone to schedule an appointment first.

 

There are a few exceptions when you might receive an unannounced visit from Aqua:

 

  • An employee might come to your door to make you aware of an unscheduled service outage, such as a main break. In this case, the employee would not need to access the inside of your home. An Aqua employee might also make an unannounced visit to investigate a property that has had multiple “zero usage” bills or an account that has not had a meter read for more than 45 days.
  • If a meter reader has trouble getting a remote meter read from outside your home, he might ask to enter you home to read the meter, in which case he would present a photo ID card.

 

 

For your safety and security, we encourage all customers to be extra cautious. Unfortunately, thieves like these might strike again. You can protect yourself by remembering the following information.

  1. All Aqua employees carry company identifica­tion. In all cases, please confirm the representative’s identification before letting them into your home.
  2. All employees dress in Aqua-branded attire similar to the uniform shown above.
  3. Company vehicles (mostly white Chevrolets) with the Aqua logo prominently displayed are always used.

If you encounter someone who is pretending to be an Aqua employee, please call your local police department and report them.

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Why Water Mains Break

One of the biggest concerns for water utilities during extremely hot or cold weather is water main breaks. Water mains are expected to last a long time – as long as 100 years in many cases. But with many miles of pipe buried underground, it’s reasonable to expect a particular section of pipe will fail or break at some point. The challenge for water utilities is to work proactively to minimize the number of breaks and to respond effectively when a main does break.

While the oldest water mains were made of wood, by the late 1800s, a variety of iron pipe was being used to construct water distribution systems. Common iron varieties included cast and galvanized in the early part of the 20th Century, with galvanized used primarily for smaller diameter pipe. Cast iron pipe was used until the late 1950s when stronger, more flexible ductile iron pipe became common. Plastic pipe, including Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) became common in the 1970s. The primary difference between these two plastic pipes is that PVC is stiffer than HDPE, which is more flexible. Even though pipe is expected to last for decades, that doesn’t mean it won’t break at some point. While it is impossible to predict specific pipe breaks, we know that environmental conditions are a major factor in water main breaks.

In the northern and northeast areas of the country where winters are more extreme, cold soils and cold water combine to add stress to pipes, which can—and often do—result in breaks. Iron, like all metals, contracts as temperatures drop. This problem is more common when the source water is surface water (rivers and lakes). These waters are significantly affected by air temperature and can drop to near freezing in the winter. A temperature difference of just 10 degrees in water or air temperatures can cause pipes to contract or expand. Additional stress inside and outside the pipe occurs as temperatures near the freezing point, making the pipe vulnerable to breakage. Water temperature changes more slowly than air temperature changes so the impact of cold water on pipes can cause breakage to take place as many as a couple days after temperatures freeze. Water systems with groundwater sources (wells) have more stable water temperatures because the water is not affected by air temperatures, and therefore, not as significantly impacted. 

Just as pipes are adversely affected by cold weather conditions, they are also affected by severe heat. In some groundwater systems in the southern and southwestern states, the soils are like sponges and hold lots of water. However, during extended periods of hot temperature when high demands for water increases water withdrawal from the aquifers, the soil becomes very dry. In these conditions, the soil contracts and subsides, pulling away from the pipe and diminishing support for the water main. The absence of support for the main can cause it to break. This particular problem led the City of Houston, Texas to begin to convert its groundwater supply to surface water.

Although older mains are generally more susceptible to breaks, breaks can occur on newer mains. This is most likely the result of improper installation or a manufacturing issue with that particular section of pipe. By examining trends in water main breaks over time, a utility is better able to identify categories of pipe that are more prone to breaks, and thus proactively target that pipe for replacement. Aqua employs such tactics in determining which mains to replace. By the end of 2013, Aqua expects to have spent $170 million of its $325 million capital improvement program on water main replacement and associated work.

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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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House Hunters Aqua Edition

On a residential street in an Illinois community, you’ll find a house where no real estate agent will take you. The light beige house on a landscaped yard is home to a filter system that removes naturally occurring iron from the well water that serves thousands of people. 

The house blends into the well-kept neighborhood, providing an attractive alternative to an industrial building. Aqua operator Jennifer Murphy remembers driving a surprised environmental regulator up to the house for a plant visit. The local waste removal service dropped off a recycling bin, and a roofer once left his card. Jennifer notes that Aqua is a good neighbor. Suggestions that the house could use a little sprucing up prompted us to power wash the siding last year. Flowering pear trees planted some years ago now dot the front yard. At Aqua, we don’t just provide our neighbors with clean drinking water, we keep up with them!

 

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