Defining Aqua’s core values

 

By Aqua President and CEO Chris Franklin

At Aqua, we are on a mission to protect and provide earth’s most essential resource. We provide 85 billion gallons of water to more than 3 million people each year, and we then return it to our rivers and streams using the highest environmental standards. Our company’s employees understand the importance of the services we provide, and the great responsibility that accompanies our work.

As a company, we are guided by three main pillars: our mission, our vision and our core values. Last year, we set out on a process to better define our core values, the principles that embody the character of our company and inspire our work together. These values are inherently embedded within our business practices and our behavior so I looked at this as a discovery quest.

We used an extremely inclusive process to determine these tenets. Guided by Aqua’s mission and vision, our Aqua Ambassador employee engagement team worked with members of the company to understand the key concepts that are most highly valued by employees. We then distilled the concepts into an employee survey in which our staff described the Aqua culture, told us what was important to them in their personal and work lives and shared the values that they believe guide our company.

I was honestly impressed with what we uncovered through this enlightening process, and am proud of the core values that we have developed to help guide our work in a more formal way. They are: integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence to be the best we can be for our customers, shareholders and communities.

Integrity

“Integrity” and “honesty” are words that were repeated by employees to describe both themselves and how they view Aqua. Our team views integrity as being honest and transparent with coworkers, customers, and shareholders. It means being careful and trustworthy to those in both their work and personal lives and displaying good character through thoughtful actions and decisions. This focus on integrity helps us to provide the best possible customer experience, day in and day out, and helps to promote a positive work environment at Aqua.

Respect

Given the nature of our business, respect is embedded into so much that we do. Our employees show this respect by being committed to one another; by respecting the work-life balance that all employees deserve; by showing our customers excellent service and committing to the communities we serve by protecting the environment and earth’s water supply through infrastructure investments, community outreach and sustainable business practices. 

Pursuit of Excellence

As employees and as a company, our pursuit of excellence is unyielding. Our employees grow as professionals to continually meet the tremendous responsibility of providing water to our communities, and we demonstrate the highest level of care with each customer by always being knowledgeable and by treating them with a level of service that we would provide to one of our own family members. As a company, we make safety a priority by properly training and providing tools to employees to make sure that they are aware of risks, working responsibly and following safe practices. And finally, we all work together to reach Aqua’s responsible and strategic growth objectives and demonstrate our commitment to shareholder value.

By safeguarding these core values of integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence, Aqua continues to make important contributions to each community we serve. We do this each day when we ensure public safety through our commitment to firefighters; when we help communities become attractive for economic development and job growth; when we protect our watersheds, lakes and streams; and when we provide necessary infrastructure for clean, safe drinking water.

I am grateful for the many Aqua employees who helped us to define these core values, and I enjoy working side by side with them each day to make sure we are living these values to the benefit of each other, our customers, our shareholders and the communities we serve. 

 

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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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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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Prevent Frozen Pipes and Fix Leaks this Winter

January 4, 2018 – Don’t let Mother Nature or aging pipes wreak havoc on your home this winter. About 250,000 homes are severely damaged from burst, cracked or frozen water pipes each year – which is why it is essential to take precautions and fix leaks around your home. 

Toilets and faucets are the biggest culprits for leaks. Not only can they waste water, they can increase your water bill if they go undetected. To check for leaks, shut off all your faucets and appliances that use water. Read your meter, then read it again 20 minutes later. If your reading has changed, you have a leak.

If the temperature outside drops to about 10 degrees, you are also at risk for frozen pipes. Check out the video below and follow Fred Wags and Felicia Fluff as they show you around the Aqua house and teach you how to prevent frozen pipes.

 

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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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