Festival spotlights water
HUNTINGTON – For the most part, water is taken for granted, said Chuck Somerville, dean of the College of Science at Marshall University.
“Most people, when they open the tap, they don’t know where it comes from or where it goes when it goes down the drain or the toilet,” he said. “You can’t live without it, but most people take it for granted.”
Marshall University and several other state agencies and organizations took a step toward changing that on Friday, when it hosted about 200 elementary school children for the Marshall University Water Festival, which organizers hope will be an annual event.
Youngsters from area schools learned about acid rain, sediment, how animal life is affected by water quality, water conservation and more as they passed through a number of stations in Buskirk Field. Participating groups represented West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry and Conservation Agency, as well as West Virginia American Water Co., the National Park Service and others.
Responsibility toward the environment starts at a young age, and events such as the water festival are going on throughout the state to instill that, said Tomi Bergstrom, water shed basin coordinator with the state DEP.
“It’s kind of neat seeing kids get the concept,” she said. “We’re hoping to educate them early so they’re responsible for their impact.”
Kids started the day not realizing that throwing a gum wrapper on the street could end up washing down a drain and, during a heavy rain event, heading straight toward the Ohio River, polluting an important water source, said Travis Bailey, an environmental specialist at Marshall. He hopes they understand that when they left.
“We’re hoping students get a grasp of what water does, how to conserve it and how it should be treated,” he said.
Laura Jordan represented West Virginia American Water at the festival and engaged the students in a rubber duck game that got them thinking about ways families can conserve water at home in many ways – when they’re doing dishes and laundry or using the faucet.
“In West Virginia, we have an abundant water source, but we tell kids it’s important to conserve natural resources – and it can help families save money on their water bill,” Jordan said.
Other games included making a bracelet with beads representing water molecules and cleaning up pollutants such as fake dog doo. They also inspected wildlife through microscopes in a research lab and visited the butterfly garden to learn about the migratory patters of butterflies and how water quality affects their life cycle.
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