Aqua may be known as one of the largest publicly regulated water utilities in the country, but the truth is, we’re also deeply entrenched within the local communities where we operate. After all, Aqua employees not only work in local communities, but we live there too. We send our children to the same schools, shop at the same stores, enjoy the same parks and, of course, drink the same water! As a result, we have a vested interest in our customers’ communities – because they are our communities, as well.
The Ripple Effect
Giving back to our communities is part of Aqua’s culture. Supporting nonprofit organizations through volunteer activities furthers the mission of Aqua’s corporate giving and volunteer program, the Ripple Effect. Through the Ripple Effect, Aqua employees have the opportunity to volunteer during the workday with efforts that include tree plantings, stream clean ups, food banks, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and many others.
United Way Campaign
Nationally, our employees participate in Aqua’s annual United Way campaign. In 2017, Aqua implemented its first national campaign, which raised $200,000. The amount included employee donations from across its eight states and Aqua’s corporate gift, and supports the communities in which we live and work. Aqua’s successful campaign was recognized at the United Way’s Annual Community Awards Celebration with the Game Changer Award. A United Way representative congratulated Aqua, saying:
"Aqua has been such a strong supporter of the United Way in our community and we are sincerely appreciative. Your team raised the bar in 2017, planning and implementing one of the strongest and most successful annual campaigns throughout the region. Not only did your team increase its employee giving by nearly 30 percent, but your campaign participation increased by a phenomenal 72 percent!"
Aqua Charitable Trust
Contributions through Aqua’s corporate giving program are administered through the Aqua Charitable Trust. Contributions and grants are awarded to organizations that improve the quality of life with particular focus on community-based nonprofit organizations in our footprint.
We seek to engage in collaborations that result in measurable success for the communities we serve. Corporate grants are implemented with priority in areas of:
- environmental stewardship
- water and wastewater related projects
- emergency services and disaster relief
- community and economic development
Global Water Initiative with Villanova University
Since 2016, Aqua has partnered with Villanova University’s College of Engineering to provide mentorship opportunities and water quality expertise for the college’s international water service work. Aqua is actively participating in two ongoing service projects with Villanova students – one in Panama and the other in Nicaragua. The projects enhance communities in the respective countries and provide critical water services to people who desperately need it.
In 2017, Aqua engineers made return trips to both Waslala, Nicaragua and Panama’s Wacuco region to continue to provide hands-on water quality expertise and foundational support to improve water infrastructure in the communities.
The goal of the Panama project was to provide guidance to students on designing a water treatment solution for the existing system, which services 800 people and is expanding to add a school with 125 students. The team evaluated the system demand, water quality and yield of a newly installed shallow well. The end-state will be a solution that integrates the well into the existing system and provides safe water to the system’s existing residents and to the new school.
In Nicaragua, Aqua engineers broke ground on a planned water distribution project in 2017. For the people of Nicaragua, the project is life-changing. The 140 people living in the very isolated town of Kasquita had been using surface water for all their needs. Every morning, they had to trek to a nearby stream to fill up buckets and carry them back to their homes on horses. This project will eliminate this need as it creates a household connection to each home in the town.
"The addition of Aqua to our team fills a huge void for us," said Jordan Ermillio, director of the Villanova University Engineering Service Program. "Not only does Aqua assist with financial resources, but the technical expertise provided by Aqua's engineers is invaluable. Aqua engineers operate water systems day in and day out, and their expertise proves to be something we were lacking. There is nothing that we've come across in any project we've partnered on that Aqua can't provide input on from a technical point of view – they're experts."
In October, employees from Aqua New Jersey took part in the second annual Peace for Police 5k run and 1 mile walk at Timber Creek Park in Blackwood, New Jersey.
Aqua New Jersey served as a sponsor for the event, in addition to bringing its tanker truck and providing water for all race attendees. Proceeds went to Monroe Township, Gloucester County police officer Max Jonofsky and his young family, who lost their wife and mother to a short battle with cancer. Just prior to her death, Dani Janofsky gave birth prematurely to the couple’s second child. Funds raised will help to set up trust funds for the children and to assist with medical expenses for Max’s young son.