10 Smart Water Tips for Conserving and Living Green

10 Smart Water Tips for Conserving and Living Green

  United Water recently kicked off our annual conservation program with the release of an annual Conservation Guide, a publication designed to promote simple methods of conserving water.  In an effort to optimize other natural resources as well, we have chosen to publish the guide for conserving water as an interactive e-book, available via our website along with 10 tips for smart water use available on local twitter and facebook channels throughout the country.  Due to the high desert climate in Idaho, additional conservation information is available for Boise residents. The guide covers a broad range of topics involving water conservation, and even highlights notable conservation efforts made by local groups over the last year, including work from local high school students. Kathryn Hilburn, a Ninth Grade student at Boise’s North Junior High School, produced the First Place winner in United Water Idaho’s inaugural Summer Conservation Student Video Contest. Hilburn’s entry, titled “Show Water You Care,” was judged to be the video that best communicated a strong conservation message in a clear and easily understood manner. Using simple artwork and narration, Hilburn showed the high value we place on water in our everyday lives and the consequences of wasting the precious resource. In recognition of her achievement, United Water made a $1,500 donation to the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation for her Accelerated Biology class.  Additionally, the video will be aired on local TV stations in Idaho as part of our annual summer water conservation Public Service media campaign. Residential water use spikes across the country during the summer months due to lawn watering.  The publication provides tips and...
Distinguishing ourselves in workplace safety excellence

Distinguishing ourselves in workplace safety excellence

  As a company, we maintain the safety-oriented mindset that a little extra effort today can prevent tragedy tomorrow.  Workplace safety being one of our primary goals at United Water; we are pleased with our progress on this area over the last year, particularly in comparison to the industry averages across the water and sewer sectors reflected in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS) most recent report. In 2013, we outperformed our water industry and municipal peers in workplace safety.  We realized a 40 percent decline in workplace accidents or injuries that resulted in lost time.  We now have less than half of these accidents than a company that meets the industry average has. This is consistent with United Water’s 5-year trend in the right direction. What’s more is that 85 of our facilities even went the whole year without a single workplace accident that resulted in time away from work. Statistics pertaining to less severe incidents came in at an impressive 43 percent less than the most recently published national average for state and local governments and 35 percent less than the water and sewer sector.  Measured by the Recordable Incident Rate, this data includes injuries involving medical treatment and restrictions. We believe that these impressive results stem directly from the time and energy our employees have dedicated to workplace safety. Over the course of the last year, our 2,250 employees amassed a total of 51,894 safety training hours, which divides out to about 23 hours per person. We want to keep upping the ante for ourselves and fulfill the goals we set for ourselves with the...
Spotlight:  United Water Corporate Scholars Paid Internship Program

Spotlight: United Water Corporate Scholars Paid Internship Program

When faced with a strategic imperative to develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) talent for a new generation in a technical field combined with a social commitment to improve diversity in our workforce, United Water developed a partnership 5 years ago with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to create a highly competitive paid internship program. The program provides students with a 10-week paid internship in one of United Water’s facilities, along with a scholarship funded by the United Water Foundation. Each student can be awarded up to $10,000 in scholarship money over a two-year period. The program offers students a chance to develop invaluable business skills through workshops and work experience. Each intern is assigned a United Water employee as a mentor. This year’s UNCF Corporate Scholars are an impressive group of students. The United Water Blog interviewed them to learn more about what it takes to be a Corporate Scholar. Erick Quinteros; Bethlehem, PA A native of Bethlehem, PA, Erick studies Civil Engineering at Columbia University, while also finding time to complete a minor in Architecture. He interned last summer at United Water’s Oradell operation, working primarily within the GIS department. Fluent in Spanish, Erick spends his free time leading Spanish worship services at Pocono Community Church and coordinating events for Columbia’s Faith and Action group. He is an avid musician who focuses primarily on the piano, but also plays the bass guitar, drums and trombone. Erick expects to graduate in the spring of 2015. Jeneissa Booker; Teaneck, NJ Jeneissa grew up in Teaneck, NJ and now studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at...
United Water supports Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act

United Water supports Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act

In support of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act—legislation that would stimulate private sector investment in water infrastructure by modifying the tax code—United Water participated in a press event on June 2 alongside bill sponsors Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), who each emphasized the need for this change. In the background, United Water construction crews worked to replace a broken underground valve leading to a 24-inch main that provides water to Cliffside Park residents. When the crew reached the valve, a ten-foot high jet of water shot out of the ground, creating mayhem as businessmen and members of the press frantically scrambled to avoid being sprayed by the geyser. Ironically, this reaffirmed the need for increased investment in the nation’s water infrastructure. “It seems like every week a pipe bursts somewhere in New Jersey, destroying property and disrupting lives,” Sen. Menendez said. “We’ve under-invested in our infrastructure, certainly we’ve underinvested in water systems, and now we’re paying the price.  These systems are old and badly degraded.  Many of them are waiting to fail, and they need to be fixed.” The bill, which sponsors will propose alongside a highway funding act, would remove caps on issuing private activity bonds (PAB) for water and wastewater projects. It comes at a time when the American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s water infrastructure a D-rating, as some of it has been in place for almost a century. Passage of the bill would benefit local economies, both by providing jobs and by preventing unplanned infrastructure shutdowns that could disrupt commerce. “Our common sense solution not only invests in...
Water – we act locally and think globally

Water – we act locally and think globally

    Did you know that—at a global level-more than 780 million people do not have access to drinking water, and that more than 2.5 billion have to live without adequate sanitation? Also, approximately 6 to 8 million people die each year from water-related diseases. As part of a global company that provides essential life services, we act locally but maintain a global sense of responsibility for providing solutions to these challenges. Last week, our own Patrick Cairo, senior vice president of Corporate Development, led a discussion in Washington, DC to galvanize leaders around collective solutions for global water challenges in advance of International Water Week – to be held in Singapore in early June. Speakers highlighted the alarming facts and numbers behind water and sanitation around the world, stressing that the private sector has to be a key component in this battle; and agreeing that all sectors must be accountable for results. A speaker from the Millennium Challenge Corporation pointed out that partnering with a company like United Water – or in this case, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT—and making a water project “work” for private financing can provide solutions and bolster the local banking system. As an example, the speaker cited the Public-Private Partnership that invested in and expanded upon a wastewater treatment plant in Jordan. This is why United Water and its parent company Suez Environnement provide local authorities with public-private solutions, from water management to skills transfer, in order to combine quality of service with environmental performance and results. It is infinitely possible to make water projects work for both public and private sectors. Doing so will also...
We won’t settle for D+ grades

We won’t settle for D+ grades

  Providing clean and reliable water and environmental services is what we do at United Water. And like many of the over 50,000 water utilities and 16,000 wastewater utilities across the nation, public and environmental health is our duty. But to maintain the level of standards that our customers expect, we need to raise awareness of the challenges facing our aging water infrastructure. A panelist at an event hosted by The Value of Water Coalition in Washington DC this week said that the water industry may in fact be a victim of its own success. Despite many pipes being 90 – 100 years old, water service is pretty reliable. And major catastrophes involving water main breaks are not the norm – yet. A majority of Americans rightfully expect reliable service from their utilities. But many are unaware that this invaluable resource is in need of leadership; new ways of thinking about an old problem; and new financing approaches. In fact, only 40% of water customers make connection between strong water infrastructure & clean drinking water. It is no secret that our communities are now relying on aging infrastructure in need of repair or replacement. We know that American cities and towns collectively need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars – between $400 billion and $1 trillion– in their public water and sewer systems. We also know that because of deferred investment choices the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) currently grades the nation’s water infrastructure a “D+.” And we are not a D+ Nation. Investing in water infrastructure is not only important for our domestic use, but it is...