4 Ways to Use Water for Wacky Outdoor Fun

Photo used via Creative Commons from Flickr user Blue Temora

It’s finally starting to feel like summer, and we all know what that means: It’s time for long days and nights spent outside, pool parties, running through sprinklers and everything else that’s fun in the sun.

With summer comes lots of water, and naturally, we want you to use your water, not abuse it. Why not cool off, entertain the kids and water the lawn at the same time? We’ve got four ideas for summer fun that’ll allow you to do just that.

Finding kid-friendly summer activities isn’t too hard, but it can be a little rough on the wallet. These activities use common household items that you probably already have, and if you don’t, you can find them for low costs at any dollar store.

Get ready for some fun!

Sponge Races

What you need:

·       Four medium-sized buckets (six if you want to play three games at a time)

·       Two large car-washing sponges

·       A permanent marker

How it works:

·       Take the permanent marker and draw a line horizontally around the middle of the bucket. Make sure it’s in the same place for each bucket – you don’t want to start any fights!

·       Fill two of the buckets up to the line and place them outside in the grass.

·       Set up the other two buckets about five feet apart for younger children, or eight to 10 feet apart for older kids.

·       Let the races begin! The first person or team to transfer all the water from one bucket to the other using the sponge is the winner.

Pro tip:

·       Add a dash of dish soap to the water to make the races soapy and extra fun.

Mega Bubbles

What you need:

·       6 cups of water

·       1 cup of corn syrup

·       2 cups of dish soap

·       A mixing bowl and spoon

·       2 metal rods or any kind of stick — this can be slim PVC pipe or wooden dowel

·       Cotton string

How it works:

·       Mix the water, corn syrup and dish soap in the bowl until everything is combined and there aren’t any layers on top.

·       Cut one piece of string that is the length of your child’s arm, then cut another that is the length of their wingspan.

·       Tie the ends of the short string to the ends of the long string. 

·       Attach the tied strings to the ends of the metal rods.

·       Holding the rods together, dip the string into the bubble solution.

·       Pull the string out, slowly spread the metal rods apart and then pull through the air to create your giant bubble.

Pro tip:

·       Add a little bit of food coloring to make colorful mega bubbles.

·       Check out this YouTube video to see a more in-depth explanation of how to create the giant bubble wands.

Colorful Ice Spheres 

What you need:

  • Water balloons
  • Non-gel food coloring
  • A sink and a freezer
  • A pair of scissors

How it works:

  • Fill a water balloon with water, using a little bit less than you would for normal water balloon usage.
  • Squirt a couple drops of food coloring into the balloon. Fewer drops will mean a lighter color, while more drops will produce a darker color.
  • Tie the water balloon and give it a little shake.
  • Place all the water balloons in the freezer and let them freeze completely. This can take anywhere from two hours to five hours, depending on the size of the balloons.
  • Once frozen, take balloons out of the freezer and use the scissors to cut off the bottom, then peel off the rest of the balloon.
  • The choice of what to do now is yours, but can we recommend creating a game of outdoor bowling?

Pro tip:

  • If you make a ton of little balloons, you can use them to spruce up your cooler. Mix them in with the rest of your ice so that every time someone grabs a drink, they’ll get a colorful surprise.

Make it Rain                     

What you need:

  • Hot water
  • Ice cubes
  • A glass jar
  • A paper plate or bowl

How to do it:

  • Add about two to three inches of hot water to your glass jar.
  • Put your paper product on top of the glass jar and wait a few minutes.
  • Place a few ice cubes on top of the plate.
  • Watch it start to rain inside your jar!

Pro tip:

  • Place one ice cube outside and one inside and have your child observe the differences in the rain. Ask them how they think the temperature or the setting is changing the weather in your little jar. It’s a perfect way to explain the water cycle.

Even though you’ll be busy having a blast with these fun activities, always remember to use your water wisely. By doing each of these activities on the lawn, the water will be put to good use. Be safe, lather up the sunscreen and stay hydrated for an unforgettable summer!  

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Get the (Earth Day) Party Started with Aqua!

 

At Aqua, we’re obsessed with all things related to our most precious resource: water

Since we’re also obsessed with the source of that water (Earth) it should come as no surprise that we’re big fans of Earth Day

In anticipation of the upcoming occasion, which eco-conscious folks all over the world will celebrate on April 22, we thought we’d take an inside look at the ways Aqua is committed to acting as a sustainable steward to the environment.

Read our thought-provoking conversation below with Network Control Engineer Dan Kirchheimer, our Aqua employee responsible for compiling Aqua’s sustainability report.

 

 

Dan Kirchheimer

With Earth Day just around the corner, what does Aqua do as a company to celebrate or recognize the occasion?

Aqua sponsors a number of stream cleanup days throughout March and April where employees and other volunteers walk along streams, creeks and rivers and pick up trash and debris that have collected along the shoreline and in the water. Each year, volunteers pull hundreds of tons of trash across numerous cleanup sites.

The final mountains of trash bags contain more than just plastic bags, paper and soda cans. Volunteers find tires, engines, refrigerators, shopping carts, scrap metal and just about anything you can imagine. Aqua partners with the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, the Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association (CRC), and the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, just to name a few. The annual CRC cleanup alone has removed more than 600,000 pounds of debris over the last 18 years.

Aqua Illinois customers in Kankakee depend solely on the Kankakee River to serve more than 80,000 residents. Aqua Illinois employees and local volunteers are now entering their 34th annual river cleanup as part of the Adopt-a-River program. The company is responsible for a one mile portion of the river that employees clean twice a year. This is one of the oldest continuous river clean-ups in the country.

Aqua Pennsylvania has also supported the TreeVitalize Watersheds program since 2005. This group has assisted in the planting of more than 40,000 trees along the banks of key watersheds for the last decade.

By investing in reforesting stream banks, this natural infrastructure helps reduce the amount of contaminants reaching our source water and helps slow natural erosion and soil degradation. This greatly improves stream water quality, improves the habitat for local environments and decreases storm water runoff.

 

Aqua Illinois employees during the annual Kankakee River Clean Up

What can Aqua customers do to make a sustainable difference this Earth Day? 

Carry a Nalgene, thermos or other water bottle around with you – even a simple cup with a lid. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to save money and still have fresh, cold water at hand.

Other ideas for how to help in a positive way on Earth Day include:

·      Volunteering for a local stream cleaning event. It will only take a few hours, and your actions will make a huge difference and make you feel great.

·      Planting trees along a creek, in a park or even your own backyard.

·      Composting your old food scraps and feeding that to your hungry plants.

·      Replacing a shower head to a low flow variety. If you live in a drought-prone area, this can save thousands of gallons of water over its lifetime for only a few dollars.

Just keep in mind, if you do nothing, expect nothing to change. One person may not make a difference, but if everybody just helped a little bit, things would start to look a lot better.

How would you like to see Aqua and similar organizations continue to practice and improve sustainability efforts in the future? 

Ever since the Industrial Revolution,  man has created amazing machines and technology to increase efficiency, production and our way of life. However, for too long, the environment has paid the price for our actions. In this modern era, we have the knowledge and ability to do things better and keep the environment in mind. Being sustainable doesn’t always have to cost more. I’d like to see more companies get creative and create mutually beneficial partnerships that both save money and help protect the environment.

“Going green” shouldn’t be a catch phrase or a way to simply cut costs. Companies have the power to inspire and create change. They can and should find opportunities that help everyone involved.

We don’t always have to keep doing things because we’ve always done them that way. Change can be good. We should embrace technology, new ideas, methods, viewpoints and ways of thinking.

Inspired to make a change this Earth Day? Remember what Dan said – everyone pitching in a little bit can make a big difference.

 

What will you pledge to do for your planet on Earth Day 2016?

 

 

 

 

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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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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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130 Years of Aqua America

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