Diving In: Touring the Ashtabula Bunker Tank

The light-gray interior of the steel cylinder warped and echoed the near whispers of James Parker and Joseph Flahiff as they stood in a shaft of a daylight squeezed through a port hole far above their hard hats.

They were inside one of the city’s best-kept secrets, a structure whose interior rarely receives a human visitor. Surrounded by trees and a high fence, only neighbors and astute drivers know of the water tank, which has been off-line for the past month while interior restoration work was performed by Tank Industries Consultants of Indianapolis.

Parker, inspector with the company, and Flahiff, production manager for the tank’s owner, Aqua Ohio, opened the tank to a media tour. It was a rare chance to crawl inside a time capsule of sorts; the interior was last painted in the 1980s, although there have been periodic inspections that required human intrusion. 

Last year, two inspectors entered the tank from an access port and, using an inflatable raft, inspected the top section of the interior. The inspection was necessary to obtain a cost estimate for the interior painting job ordered by Aqua Ohio as part of its wide-reaching plan to upgrade the Ashtabula water system.

With the tank work nearly complete, Flahiff and Parker proudly showed off the fresh paint job as if they were unveiling a commissioned work of art. 

Repairs were made, the corrosion sandblasted away and an inert coating certified safe for potable water applied. Flahiff said coatings have improved greatly in the past 30 years, and the modern paint will do a better job of protecting the water supply.

The project is part of a major reinvestment plan to improve the area’s water treatment and distribution system. Aqua spent $1.4 million replacing pipe, valves and hydrants last year. Another $300,000 went into the chemical building at the treatment plant and $800,000 went for exterior painting and structural rehabilitation of the Bunker Hill tank.

All of the tanks provide a reserve of water and help maintain consistent pressure at faucets across the system, from a spacious Tudor on Bunker Hill to a bungalow on Lake Erie, where the water we take for granted begins and ends its journey. 

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Where Few Have Gone by Shelley Terry and Carl Feather

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Top 10 Memorial Day Activities

It’s hard to believe, but Memorial Day is officially upon us. After this past winter, everyone is ready for the warm weather, BBQ’s, pool parties, and trips to the beach. The summer is a time to explore the outdoors. Whether you plan on keeping it low-key or traveling this holiday, we’ve got the perfect activities for you to enjoy with family and friends.

1. Have a picnic in the park. 

Enjoy some rays, pack your favorite sandwich and roll around in the grass a little.

 

2. Walk to the local ice cream parlor

Get a scoop of that sweet mint chocolate chip you love or colorful cotton candy (if you’re feeling like a daredevil).

 

3. Put on your cowboy/girl boots or rocker T-shirt 

Head to a concert or a music festival. Live music always seems to be ten times better in the summer. 

 

4. Get in a round of 18.

The United States is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses. Pick one of the top 100 best courses here.

 

5. Put your toes in the sand

 

Whether it’s the Jersey shore, the Outer Banks, Virginia Beach or Galveston Island – the beach is always the first thought in everyone’s head when it comes to Memorial Day Weekend!

 

6. Family time is the best time!

Sit on the porch, deck, or have a water balloon fight in the backyard with the kids or friends. After all it’s the small life pleasures that really matter.

 

7. Take a hike!

 

One of the most underrated activities is hiking. Mornings are the best time to get out in the wilderness and reconnect with nature!

 

8. Cast your line

Go fishing on the nearest lake and bring home a fresh catch for dinner. You can’t get much more organic than that!

 

9. Enjoy the weather on horseback

 

Horses are one of the world’s most beautiful creatures. Spend the weekend horseback riding through the fields or visit a local course to make it a fun, competitive activity.

 

10. Camping by the lake is an oldie but goody.

Some of the best places to set up tents around the U.S. are Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Big Bend National Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

 

Your adventure awaits! We hope all of our Aqua employees, clients, friends and family have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

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Aqua is Hooked on Veterans

We’re Hooked on Our Veterans

Aqua proudly supports our country’s military servicemen and women and the Wounded Warrior Project. As corporate sponsor of Virginia’s Caroline County chapter’s bass fishing tournament on April 26, Aqua combined our appreciation of our veterans with our love of water for a day of companionship, relaxation and fun.

 

A half-dozen Aqua employees joined wounded warriors at the Mount Olympus Berry Farm in Ruther Glen, Virginia, to cast their lines and reel in a good catch – or at least a good story about the one that got away!

 

According to the Caroline Progress, the top catches included a 22-inch bass and a 32-inch, 17-pound catfish that even surprised the pond owners. 

The Wounded Warrior Project is a national program that supports 50,000 warriors and nearly 7,000 family members through 20 programs and services.

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Aqua Delivers New, Clean Water Supply to Families in Wake Forest

Aqua North Carolina turned on the tap last year to provide clean drinking water to two dozen homes in a Wake Forest neighborhood where homeowners’ private wells were found to be contaminated by solvents. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached out to Aqua to connect these homes to our public drinking water supply, and we expect to connect additional homes. 

In 2005, a homeowner’s private well was first identified as having been contaminated with a volatile organic compound (VOC) called TCE. Since then, additional private wells in the area were found to have been contaminated. Federal and state environmental officials believe two former circuit board assembly companies are the source of the contamination.

Aqua is proud that we could help these families get water that is regularly tested and complies with state and federal health standards. This situation underscores the benefits to customers of public water systems like Aqua’s. Unlike private well owners, Aqua must adhere to federal and state laws that require consistent and frequent tests for contaminants.

Aqua has been providing water and wastewater utility service in North Carolina for more than 30 years and serves about 84,000 homes in 52 counties.

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40,000 Trees And Counting

Whether it’s planting trees, sampling aquatic organisms with high school students, helping a watershed association with their stream clean-ups, or speaking with community groups – Aqua’s environmental affairs team takes every opportunity to enlist other watershed stakeholders as advocates for the stream.

The watershed in Southeast Pennsylvania is hundreds of square miles that drain into Aqua’s raw-water sources. There are nine rivers and streams monitored and protected by a team of Aqua’s environmental specialists. Robert Kahley and Craig Marleton are on call 24/7 and must react quickly to identify any potential dangers to our water supply.

Reacting quickly to prevent pollutants – like fuel and chemical spills – from entering Aqua’s water-system intake has both obvious and immediate benefits, but the environmental affairs team considers their proactive efforts an equally important investment in the long-term protection of our water supply.

 

For example, over the last decade, Aqua’s TreeVitalize Watersheds initiative has recruited volunteers to plant 40,000 trees and shrubs in hundreds of areas along stream banks in the Delaware Valley.  As they grow along the banks of drinking-water sources, trees naturally offer several layers of protection from contaminants. Recently, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society presented the Binney Award to Aqua for TreeVitalize at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The award, named for the first president of the society, is given to a company that exemplifies environmental stewardship, a tenet of PHS’s mission.

The Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy has been receiving TreeVitalize grants for many years, and they have become the core of our fall restoration projects,” explains Conservation Coordinator for Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Krista Scheirer. “These projects not only lead to better water and habitat quality; they help educate thousands of our volunteers and local residents on protecting our watershed, which has an even greater impact.”

Despite the success of TreeVitalize, Tony Fernandes, who manages the environmental affairs team, explains that protecting the watershed is a long-term process. “Any stream-bank repair project we complete fixes only a tiny fraction of the total stream length.  It would be impossible to measure the benefit of repairing a 500-foot stretch of steam bank along a 25-mile-long stream, and it will take many years for the 5,000 trees we plant this year to become large enough to form a mature canopy and provide the full storm-water filtering capacity, nutrient uptake, temperature control, and erosion protection to the stream.”

There are powerful long-term benefits to doing all these proactive efforts. After all, Aqua has delivered high-quality water to our customers for more than 125-years, a legacy we plan to protect and enhance for the future.  

 

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