Aqua Illinois Donates to Local Career Development Initiative and Food Pantry

Aqua Illinois Kankakee Area Manager Melissa Kahoun recently presented a $1,000 check to the Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education (CHEE), a locally-based initiative with a mission to “prepare a college and career-ready workforce to meet employment needs in Kankakee County,” according to its website.

CHEE is a collaborative effort between the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County and the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley. Its role as a facilitator for “collaboration between industry and education” begins by working with local stakeholders, such as the Kankakee Community College, to “ensure industry’s needs for a workforce.”

Much of their work centers on reaching out to the community via job fairs and local events to educate students on STEM, career paths and hiring opportunities in the area. Aqua Illinois is one of many corporate sponsors supporting the effort.

“CHEE provides students a chance to learn and develop skills they may otherwise not be interested in focusing on,” Kahoun said. “It’s important that we, as a utility company, support these efforts and partner with an organization whose mission is to provide more knowledge and growth opportunities for students.”

In addition to Kankakee’s contributions, Illinois’ Northern Regional Supervisor Patrick Wren and Area Manager Joel Gehrett presented a check for $1,000 to Maine Township, a newly acquired system in Cook County. The donation went to the Maine Township Food Pantry, which “provides food on an emergency basis to persons living in the greater Maine Township area,” according to MaineTownship.com.

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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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Thank You Laborers!

The first Monday of each September is bittersweet.

On one hand, we have our Labor Day barbeques where we pass the time with some of our friends and family and try not to get ourselves into trouble with fireworks.  We enjoy one last weekend at the beach before sending our kids back to school (finally). Perhaps most importantly, football season begins.

On the other hand, summer is coming to an end. The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder.  But before we start thinking about frozen pipes- yikes - let’s take some time to thank the laborers.

Today we recognize our countless employees — as well as those in other fields — and thank them for their efforts.

Thank you to our crews who work tirelessly, responding to emergencies and ensuring water service through even the harshest of conditions. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to outstanding service through long hours and unpredictable circumstances while out in the field.

 

Today we owe them our thanks

 

The carpenters who build our homes…

The electricians who climb our power lines during thunderstorms to keep our lights on…

And (our personal favorites) the utility workers who keep clean, usable water flowing through our bathrooms and kitchens.

These men and women have time and time again demonstrated a true dedication to their work and have provided a strong and reliable infrastructure that we benefit from everyday.

So this weekend as we enjoy ourselves— let’s also show appreciation to those who make our lives easier.

 

Thank you from Aqua America!

 

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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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