Water Conservation: Back to School Edition

 

Going back to school can bring thoughts of autumn weather and homework. Water conservation in the classroom is not always a top priority, but we think it should be! 

You might be thinking that there isn’t very much you can do to conserve water at school and in the classroom, but we have some ideas for you.

1. Teach

One of the first steps in water conservation is creating awareness. If you’re a teacher, consider creating a lesson that revolves around water conservation. For younger students, try a fun activity such as an edible aquifer or a water bracelet.

If you’re a parent and your child is not learning about water conservation at school, try teaching a small lesson. Even reading a book or watching a short video can help your child to realize the importance of water conservation.

2. Check

The place where students and teachers have the most control over water conservation is the bathroom. Make sure that the faucet is completely turned off and the toilet is no longer running before leaving the bathroom. If something seems to be leaking or off, notify maintenance so that they can fix the problem.

3. Replace

A lot of schools already have energy-efficient equipment. If yours does not, make a suggestion to the school administration about replacing the old equipment. Dishwashers and other large appliances can use a great deal of water and energy.

4. Reuse

Reuse water as much as possible in the classroom. If there is ever any leftover water from water bottles, consider watering a classroom plant or cleaning something with the water. Making sure that all water is put to good use is key to conservation.

5. Rethink

Conserving water outside is important, too. If your school has a field or any kind of grass on the property, suggest setting the mower blades to 2-3 inches high. This way, the grass will be left long enough to shade the soil, which will allow for moisture retention and protect the grass from drought.

Water conservation is always important, don’t let it fall by the wayside this back to school season. With a little knowledge and creativity, water conservation can be easy and enjoyable for everyone!

 

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Aqua Leadership Travels to Panama to Provide Water Quality Expertise

Aqua’s leadership team recently joined forces with Villanova University to provide hands-on water quality expertise in Panama. The trip is one of the first in a new partnership between Aqua and the University’s College of Engineering to provide water infrastructure expertise in developing countries.

 

The team from Aqua traveled with representatives from Villanova Engineering Service Learning (VESL) to inspect water sites and meet with local community members and non-governmental organization partners. The six-day trip to the Alto Bayano region of Panama took place from August 11 to 16.

 

Aqua’s Rick Fox, Chief Operating Officer, Peter Virag (Corporate Energy Manager), Ryan Coombs (Chemist) and Deborah Watkins (Director, Water Quality & Environmental Compliance traveled to Panama with Jim O’Brien and Frank Falcone of the University’s College of Engineering.

 

 

A Panamanian representative, Father “Wally” Pablo Kasuboski, a Capuchin missionary priest from Wisconsin that has been serving in Panama for more than 30 years, led the representatives from Aqua and Villanova. Father Wally was the trip's visionary leader and works tirelessly on improving community conditions through ministry; building churches, roads, bridges, and water systems; and leading an agriculture cooperative while preserving the rain forests.

 

There were three specific goals defined by Aqua and Villanova going into the trip. These goals included:

·      developing an understanding of local culture and the four water systems in the Alto Bayano region;

·      evaluating existing water system challenges in the region including five leaking storage tanks and water quality concerns associated with chlorination and turbidity control during the rainy season; and

·      brainstorming ideas to address these challenges while understanding the capabilities of the local operators, materials available, and the economy of the region.  

 

Each day the team participated in different projects, including visiting a reservoir and dam, evaluating water storage and treatment methods, and analyzing samples from customers’ premises, storage tanks, and water sources in the region. The team attained a better understanding of the region's water systems and, throughout the course of their visit, collected samples for more detailed analysis at Aqua’s laboratory in Bryn Mawr.

 

While Aqua and the Villanova team were able to provide their expertise and services to one of the largest rural water supply systems in Central America, they also found time to experience the culture surrounding the Alto Bayano region. The team enjoyed a region filled with a beautiful mosaic of farmland, pastures, jungles, and city life. Life at the mission, the team’s home base, was delightful (and hot) with a smorgasbord of bunkhouses surrounded with wild animal noises, open air, copious amounts of rainfall, and great home cooking. The participants had the delight of trying the local cuisine including plantains, yucca root, beans, rice, Panamanian pizza, and Panamanian-influenced Chinese food.

 

The Panama trip participants enjoyed lending their expertise, learning about a new culture, and cautiously exploring the wildlife that calls the region home. Aqua and Villanova are looking forward to continuing their partnership and initiative to help international communities in desperate need of clean, safe drinking water. 

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Top Songs to Sing in the Shower

 

On average, a person spends roughly eight minutes in the shower. Do you know what a person does during those eight minutes? They sing. Yes, we all do it, or have done it.

Do you ever feel like your voice sounds better in the shower? And then you get this overwhelming confidence that you should go on The Voice because you could potentially be the next big thing?

Yeah, us too. That’s because the shower is on our side. With its size and shape, our voices create the most perfect sound waves (or so we think).

So, tell us, what are some of your favorite songs to sing? We created a list of the top 10 songs to sing in the shower and we promise they will not disappoint. Plus, they’re all pretty short songs, so they’re perfect for timing a nice, short shower that gets you clean and conserves water. Start those vocal exercises because after reading this, you’re going to want to get singing. 

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

Who: The Proclaimers 

Why we sing along: It is definitely easier to sing about walking 500 miles than actually doing the action itself. So, pretend to put on your walking shoes and get ready for a crazy adventure of belting notes ranging from E to B. 

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”

Who: Elton John and Kiki Dee

Why we sing along: OK, singing a duet is so much fun because you get to change characters in the midst of all the excitement. One minute you’re Elton and the next you’re Kiki. What else could you want? 

“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”

Who: Whitney Houston

Why we sing along: Um, it’s Whitney Houston. There are no other reasons necessary.  

“Billie Jean"

Who: Michael Jackson

Why we sing along: Other than the fact that it’s the King of Pop, this song tells a story and it’s one that we all know well. We dare you to try and not sing or dance to this tune.  

“I Will Survive”

Who: Gloria Gaynor

Why we sing along: Bad breakup? Nothing Gloria Gaynor can’t help with. Be the survivor she sings about.  

 “Dancing Queen” 

Who: ABBA

Why we sing along: You cannot resist ABBA. We love this song because not only can you sing it, but you can also dance along because — drum roll please — you are the dancing queen, baby! 

“Don’t Stop Believin’" 

Who: Journey 

Why we sing along: Journey said it best: Don’t stop believin’ and definitely don’t stop singin’! This is the ultimate tune to play “rock star,” so don’t hold anything back. If you’re destined to win The Voice, you have to nail all of the ranges of these notes. 

“Sweet Caroline"

Who: Neil Diamond

Why we sing along: Ahhhh. “Sweet Caroline.” One of the best. We’ve all tried replacing “Caroline” with our own names. Unfortunately, it just isn’t the same. Sweet Caroline it is, and that’s all it’ll stay Thank you, Neil! 

“I Want to Know What Love is”

Who: Foreigner

Why we sing along: Do you want to know what love is? Because we sure do and this classic song is going to help us. It’s easy to let go and put your entire heart and soul into this jam…so do it. The steamy shower won’t mind. 

 “Can’t Stop the Feelin’" 

Who: Justin Timberlake  

Why we sing along: Yes, we had many of the classics above, but this song was necessary. It is all over the radio right now and it’s so catchy, you can’t help but sing along with the ever-soulful JT. Don’t even try to stop that feeling. Get in the shower and belt your heart out! 

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Diary of an Aqua Water Drop: Chloe (Wastewater From Homes)

Hey there! It’s Chloe again. Last time we talked I told you about my epic journey from being a groundwater water drop to a clean, ready-to-be-used water drop. Well, do I have a story for you about where I’ve been since then! 

Wastewater From Homes

 

Today was a wakeup call for me. I was sitting in my tank minding my own business when woosh! I’m being shot through pipes and used to clean little Tommy who obviously had way too much fun at the beach today. Now I’m covered in sand, greasy sunscreen, a runaway beach tag, and soap — an uncomfortable situation — and am now considered wastewater. Goodbye my old friends who are wanted water drops. I’m now unsuitable to go home where I had just settled down. So alone and disgusting, it’s time to make my journey through these pipes into a world unknown.

 

Screening

 

As you know,  I feel completely and utterly yucky covered in grease, sand, and this darn beach tag.. If you’ve ever met plastics before, you know they can clog things up. Luckily our first stop is the screening process, so this freeloader jerk gets held back by a screen as I rush on through. It’s like a weight off my shoulder. 

 

Primary Clarification

Although I’m glad  my buddy the beach tag is gone, I’m still quite greasy, sandy, and soapy. Now soap is a fun thing to hang out with It’s bubbly and clean, but not the type of clean I want to be. Also all those bubbles have me feeling a bit gassy (not to mention the grease and the sand aren’t making things easier). After the screening, we were rushed along to primary clarification where the sand and grease finally sunk to the bottom – good riddance. They were clogging up my style. Meanwhile, my sweet soapy friend was whisked off by a skimmer. It was tough saying goodbye to such a fun thing as soap, but I have a feeling I’ll see it again.

 

Biological Treatment and Final Clarification

In the next tank I’m suddenly swarmed by microscopic organisms. Their job is to break down the organic material inside me. It tickles as they nibble away at the leftovers. Suddenly, I look around and realize everything is clear again. I hadn’t realized how dirty I’d become since the beginning of this journey, but it felt great to be more like myself again. 

 

 Filtration

Although I felt better, after all this time some particles were still clinging to me during this journey. Couldn’t they tell that this club was for water only? Thank goodness we got to the filtration tank because as I carelessly swam through, these clingy guys got held back. 

 

Disinfection

 

At this point things got weird. My fellow water droplets and I thought we were in the clear, but we were swiftly informed that harmful organisms that could cause people to get sick were possibly hiding in our ranks. It was scary. I wanted them to be gone so I could be pure again. Suddenly there was a blinding ultraviolet light shining on us – makes me wish I had Tommy’s sun glasses. We could hear as the harmful organisms left this world forever – the saying that only the good die young doesn’t apply here.

 

 Discharge

We’re finally home free! Who knew life could be this good? Now that we’re perfectly purified, we were gently poured into a river. Here I ran into some old friends from way back in the Jurassic years. It’s amazing how time does little to us aqua drops. We’re hoping this river leads us to Mexico or Hawaii. I’d love to come back to humanity as crushed ice in a mixed drink – I’ve done my time cleaning other people up and deserve some “me” time! Peace out!

 

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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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