AQUA has been a member of Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation (EP-ACT) and the former Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities (GPCC) program since 2009. AQUA has continuously been supportive of alternative fuels and was an early adopter of alternative fueled vehicles dating back to 1997. Aqua has adopted many types of alternatives to gasoline and diesel in their fleet of over 1,000 vehicles including biodiesel, hybrids, electric and CNG vehicles. They have helped EP-ACT maintain a visible presence of alternative fueled vehicles by utilizing and demonstrating them in and around Philadelphia for over 5 years. It is AQUA’s commitment to help lessen their dependence on imported petroleum and sustainable practices that premier AQUA AMERICA to our stakeholder spotlight.
Right-Size Vehicles: Aqua’s fleet department diligently works with area managers to ensure the most fuel efficient replacement vehicle is utilized.
Lubricants: Aqua Pennsylvania has made a transition to using only synthetic oils in all fleet engines, leading to less wear on engines and increased fuel economy. A corporate-wide decision was made to extend oil-change maintenance intervals on most cars and light trucks from 6,000 to 12,000 miles. On class 8 trucks oil change intervals increased from 10,000 miles to 12,000 miles and 20,000 miles on Aqua’ s Volvo trucks. Aqua Fleet department is consistently analyzing the lubricants, maintenance intervals and maintenance procedures it utilizes to ensure cost effective and environmentally responsible practices.
Recycling: Fleet management is also making efforts to recycle wherever possible. At the Souderton and Springfield fleet maintenance garages there are two clean-burning oil furnaces using only recycled motor oil that Aqua mechanics retrieve from vehicles. Each year Aqua Pennsylvania’s service garages generates between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of used motor oil from oil changes, which must be properly disposed. Rather than pay for certified recyclers to haul the oil away, a special heating system recycles the waste oil and heats the garage. The special oil furnace is capable of burning used motor oil, transmission oil, hydraulic oil, as well as NO.4 heating oil, and is 20 percent to 50 percent less expensive than natural gas.
The shop, was heated with six natural gas heaters, now has the option of choosing how to heat its facility given current energy price markets. These furnaces are approved by the EPA and meet strict environmental guidelines for "Energy Efficient Commercial Building Property" heating devices. The system reduces annual energy and power costs of the building between 17 percent and SO percent. At the Springfield location, the new system saved approximately $6000.00 in annual heating costs. The Souderton garage has had a similar system since 2006. As the only source of heat, its free energy has already paid for itself in savings and benefits to the environment. Practical and wherever current fuel sources are available.
Aqua America's sustainable practices extend beyond its own operations. Each year Aqua purchases approximately 700 retreaded tires, with no negative impact to its fleet operations. Tire recycling is a very sustainable activity because a large portion of the tire is reused in the retreading process. Recycled tires use one-third of the energy required to produce new tires, saving nearly half a billion gallons of oil each year.
Decreasing Energy Demand through Training: Aqua America is also focusing efforts on teaching employees how to decrease energy demand. The company continues to educate employees on more efficient driving behaviors, as well as enforcing a "no unnecessary idling" policy. Fleet management has also been exploring GPS technology capabilities. Aqua has over 400 vehicles equipped with the GPS unit enabling employees to perform business more efficiently while reducing miles and lost work time.
The tracking system allows operation managers to view real-time vehicle position, identifying the closest vehicle to address customer and maintenance emergencies. The GPS technology prepares fuel saving reports allowing for more efficient use of vehicles.
It is these practices and AQUA’s commitment to further their investment in alternative fuels, vehicles and technologies that make them one of our Most Valuable Stakeholders (MVS).