How to Bring the Summer Olympics to Your Backyard

 

Even though the 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed to 2021, there are still plenty of ways to feel the Olympic spirit this summer. We picked five Olympic sports you and your family can recreate in your own pool. With these tips and tricks, there’s no reason water-based exercise and fun needs to wait!

 

Just keep Swimming!

 

 

Swimming may be the obvious choice here, but it’s also a classic sport that can be reenacted in lots of different ways. There are four different styles of Olympic swimming: freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke. Take your pick and see who in your family can swim the fastest in each category. Just because you think you’re the master at butterfly, doesn’t mean you’ll be undefeated at backstroke—there's only one way to find out!

 

Strokes of an artist

 

 

Annette Kellerman is credited for the birth of artistic swimming. When she toured the United States performing water acrobatics, the spectacle proved to be incredibly popular and was later added to the Olympics. We can’t say we’re surprised by the swift gain in popularity. After all, who wouldn’t love dancing around in a pool? To recreate this sport, all you have to do is play your favorite song, jump in the water, and bust out your best moves! Bonus points if you can choreograph a routine with your fellow swimmers. 

 

Row, row, row your float

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know rowing was initially used to transport resources in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece? It’s believed that it officially turned into a sport around the 1828 Oxford-Cambridge university boat race. This one takes some creativity, so get ready to gather all your best pool floats! All you need to do is hop on your floatie of choice, grab some DIY row paddles (like your hands), and paddle across the pool to win that gold medal.

 

Make a Splash!

 

 

 

Diving was included in the Olympics for the first time during the summer of 1904 in St. Louis. The sport originated from gymnasts doing tumbling routines into the water. If your pool is deep enough to safely use a diving board, step on up and show off your best dive. We’ll even bend the rules this time to let cannon balls count! Get the whole family together to rate each diving pose and see who reigns supreme.

 

Water macro? Water polo!

  

 

 

All you need for a game of water polo is a ball, two teams, and goal posts at opposite ends of your pool. Teams score points by getting the ball through their opponent’s goal post, but don’t forget the rules—your feet can’t touch the bottom of the pool, and unless you’re the goalie, you can only use one hand at a time on the ball. Nets are best for the goals if you can find them, but even placing two chairs outside the pool will work fine. Remember to take a break if you get tired from treading water! 

 

As always, remember to take all necessary pool safety precautions before getting started. After all, games are only fun so long as everyone stays safe.

 

Lather up the sunscreen and go for the gold!

 

 

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What’s the Deal with Humidity, Anyway?

 

 

Have you ever gone outside and felt the air weighing on you? Or maybe you’ve noticed that it feels much hotter than it was yesterday, even though it’s the exact same temperature. How about when you get out of a steaming hot shower and dry off with a towel, only for your skin to still feel damp? 

 

Often, these strange sensations are the results of humidity. You may not be able to see it, but it is happening right in front of us in all climates!

 

What is humidity?

 

Humidity is simply the concentration of water vapor in the air. It’s not always as obvious as rain, and it’s usually invisible. Think of it as the difference between a hot, dry desert, and a tropical rainforest. 

 

There are different types of humidity and ways to measure how humid the air is. The most common forms are relative humidity and dew point. Relative humidityis theamount of moisture in the air relative to the temperature. This is what you hear about when you watch weather forecasts. It tells us the likeliness of precipitation, dew, or fog.

 

A measurement that you may be more familiar with is dew point. This is the temperature the air must be for water to condense and evaporate at the same rate. The higher the dew point, the more humid it is outside. This way is much easier for those of us who are not weather professionals to predict how we will feel when we step outside.

 

 

How does it work?

 

 

We know that through the water cycle, water evaporates and turns into water vapor. As the temperature rises, more water evaporates. At the point of saturation, the amount of water vapor is the highest it can be in the air. Because of all this water vapor, the air feels incredibly thick, stuffy, and humid.

 

 

How does humidity affect us?

 

The higher the relative humidity and dew point outside, the hotter it feels for us humans, because our sweat evaporates slower due to the already omnipresent moisture in the air. This kind of heat can also leave us dehydrated as it messes with our cooling mechanisms, so make sure you hydrate well and keep your body cool on humid days!

 

Humidity can have several effects indoors as well. Make sure you keep an eye on the humidity levels in your house as high levels can damage electronics and cause mold due to trapped water. Hot and humid climates are also more likely to be prone to hurricanes and flooding.


While humidity does sometimes have negative effects, it is still a necessary part of the water cycle. Without it, we wouldn’t have clouds, rain, or rainbows. And who wants that? Now that you know the science of it all, enjoy the outdoors this summer—but stay healthy and hydrated!

 

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The Science of Seltzer Water

 

Soda water may sound like something that was invented in the ‘80s, but we’ve actually been drinking it since the 1600s! People have used different methods to create it over the years, ranging from fermentation to taking carbon dioxide straight from the mines. But do you ever wonder how exactly those bubbles got into your water?

 

Soda bubbles form out of a gas called carbon dioxide that is omnipresent in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the gas that creates all the fizziness. The more carbon dioxide you add to water, the more bubbles and tangy taste you get, which is perfect for anyone who loves a twist in their water!

 

 

 

Carbon dioxide doesn’t exactly have a taste on its own, which is why when added to any drink, it creates a sharp, acidic sensation in your mouth. In fact, it forms something called carbonic acid, which in turn creates that crisp, tangy flavor.

  

The most common way of making your own seltzer is through a seltzer machine, which can be found online or at most department or home goods stores. The only other ingredient you need is the water straight out of your tap! A seltzer machine adds pressure to the water through its wand and creates bubbles as the pressure is released. The tube or wand uses pressure to dissolve and trap the carbon dioxide in your water. This chemical reaction is also used to make beer and soda foamy!

 

 

 

Another way to create bubbles is by dropping the temperature of the water and adding carbon dioxide to it, but you should leave that method to the pros. If you’ve ever wondered why your drinks stay crispier when they’re cold, now you have your answer!

 

What sounds better than a glass of cold, crisp seltzer to beat the heat while teaching the kids the science of it all? Cheers to a delicious and educational summer!

 

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Watercolor Tips and Techniques

If you’ve been finding yourself stuck on the couch lately, it might be time to get creative! Arts and crafts are a fun and productive way to spend your free time, and watercolor painting is an enjoyable and easy medium to create a masterpiece. We’re here to demonstrate three unique techniques to help you WFH (watercolor from home).

 

If you don’t have watercolor paints around the house, don’t worry—you can easily create your own by combining acrylic paint with water. Just choose your favorite colors and slowly mix in the water until you get the thin, watery consistency of the examples below.

 

 

Salt and Watercolor

The creativity doesn’t have to stop at adding water. Use other household objects like salt for a grainy, textured pattern in your painting. The key to this technique is salting the paint while it’s still wet.

 

  1. Start by painting a small area to ensure it won’t dry up too quickly.
  2. Next, pour some salt on the wet portion of the paint. You can add as much or as little as you’d like!
  3. Finally, once the paint is dried, wipe off the salt to reveal your unique pattern.

 

 

Pro tip: Try out different kinds of salts (such as sea salt) to achieve different sizes, textures, and effects.

Watercolor Drip

This next effect doesn’t require any add ons—just gravity. Make sure you have a paper towel or newspaper underneath your paper for this one since it can get messy.

  1. Choose your watercolor and add a generous amount of water to your paintbrush.
  2. Mix the water and paint together on your canvas, add even more water, and tilt your paper upright to allow the paint to drip. It’s as simple as that!
  3. If the paint is not dripping enough, continue to add water to the painted section with your brush.

 

 

Wet on Wet Blending

 

One of the best things about painting with watercolors is the ability to easily blend colors and create beautiful, unexpected patterns. Combining more than one color while they’re still wet allows them to bleed into one another and create a classic watercolor look.

 

  1. Start with the base color of your choice.
  2. Slowly add other colors and let the water blend them.
  3. Continually add water to help the natural blending process.

 

The best part about this technique is its unpredictability. Just let the water guide your design and see what happens.

 

 

There are plenty of ways to get crafty and creative if you’re stuck indoors. You can even combine all three of these techniques to create a new masterpiece every day! Don’t forget that anyone in the family can be an artist—just add water.

 

 

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Innovating Infrastructure in Lake Monticello

 

Our Aqua Virginia team recently completed an innovative wastewater treatment plant upgrade to improve service, protect local waterways, and operate more efficiently for the Lake Monticello community just outside Charlottesville.

 

Aqua had two overarching goals. We wanted to improve the quality of the plant’s treated wastewater, which is discharged into the stringently regulated Chesapeake Bay watershed. We also wanted to minimize future rate increases for customers by reducing operating expenses and deferring the need for a major plant overhaul, which would cost much more.

 

Consulting the Expert

 

We spoke to Aqua’s operations manager Dan Hingley, who engineered the project and oversaw construction. “While upgrades to water systems typically result in obvious improvements for customers — like better pressure or more reliable service — improvements to a wastewater system often go unnoticed,” said Hingley. “In fact, many of us don’t even think about our wastewater after it goes down the drain or is flushed away. Meanwhile, a lot of effort goes into collecting, transporting, and cleaning wastewater, and customers rely on us to protect the environment and their local waterways. This project demonstrates how we do that.”

 

 

 

The treatment concepts we used aren’t new, but the way we applied them required creativity and innovation to achieve goals at a lower cost. Making wise decisions about which treatment process to use and which types of equipment to install alleviated the total capital cost of the project. 

 

Aqua reconfigured the layout of the wastewater plant and added some new aeration system controls to optimize treatment. The team used baffle walls to create new zones within the existing tanks. These baffles control water flow, prolong the amount of time the wastewater spends in treatment tanks, and separate a single tank into multiple treatment stages. While the previous process was a single tank that was continuously aerated, the modified process added new zones that weren’t aerated to allow specific bacteria to eat organic matter in the untreated wastewater, which removes a nutrient called nitrogen.

 

In these new unaerated zones, Aqua had to install a mixing system since it was no longer being provided by the diffused aeration system. Aqua collaborated with a neighboring utility to design and build mixers that connect to the existing air supply system and release large air bubbles, rather than the smaller diffused air bubbles, to induce mixing. This solution costs less to create and costs less to operate than installing mechanical mixers.

 

 

 

 

Award-Winning Innovation

 

“Aqua’s top priority is to deliver safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater services to our customers,” noted Aqua Virginia President John Aulbach. “These upgrades in Lake Monticello will strengthen our infrastructure, improve service, and help protect the environment.” 

 

At its 2019 Summit, the National Association for Water Companies awarded Aqua a Management Innovation award for this project completed at the Lake Monticello wastewater treatment plant. The award recognizes a utility that has implemented groundbreaking and industry-changing ideas. 

 

Aqua provides water and wastewater service to about 80,000 people in 37 counties across Virginia. 

 

Keep an eye on our blog to go behind the scenes of more of our infrastructure improvement projects throughout 2020!

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