Foster Elementary School 5th graders in Hingham learned about their local water resources and water conservation by participating in the Water All Around You program. The program was created by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association’s WaterSmart Program (formerly Greenscapes) and is funded by Aquarion Water Company.
WaterSmart Program Manager Lori Wolfe, said, “The purpose of the program is to help students realize that the quality of our water is directly influenced by how we care for the land in our watershed.” She added, “Our hope with this program is to instill a sense of stewardship in the students so that they will think twice before leaving pollutants on the land such as pet waste or trash. Through a series of hands-on exercises, the kids get to see how water transports pollutants straight to our local ponds and streams.”
The fifth graders at participated in a series of activities that illustrated important concepts about water. They did a taste test of three different types of water, including Hingham’s own water, filtered water and distilled water. They also observed through a sophisticated ground water simulator how water travels below ground, carrying pollution with it to streams and ponds. They witnessed how pollutants, including fertilizers and dog waste left on the land, wash into local water bodies via a simulated rain storm on a watershed model. They also examined how rocks and soil can actually clean dirty, polluted water, and they played a game trying to see what daily tasks they could do using 65 gallons of water. (The 65 gallons is the recommended Massachusetts daily maximum allotment per person in order to have enough water for public safety and consumption). They quickly discovered the one activity they couldn’t do to stay within the 65 gallons per day recommendation – lawn watering – which can actually consume thousands of gallons in a day.
As part of the program, the students at Foster Elementary had an opportunity to tour Aquarion’s water treatment facility on Rt. 228. They were able to view first-hand the complex processes that are required to bring drinkable water to their homes, including the clarifier, where organic matter (leaves and twigs from the Accord Pond reservoir and well system) were being coalesced into solids; the huge centrifuge where these solids are separated from the water; and the deep carbon filter which remove fine particles from the water. They saw the giant instrument panel with gauges that continuously measure the quality of the water as it travels through the plant.
They were in awe of the control room, where they watched an operator control the entire water system through a computer, and they marveled at the soundproof room that housed giant generators, ready to keep the water system running in case of a blackout. They were also impressed by the giant pumps that propel the water throughout Hingham and all the way to the end of Hull.
One of the 5th grade teachers said, “The Water All Around You program has really helped our students appreciate their water resources much more. We thank Aquarion for the funding that made this all possible, and we are sure that our students will become much better stewards of our water after this program!”
The WaterSmart program is a regional outreach effort to educate people about ways to conserve and protect local water supplies sponsored by the North and South River Watershed Association, Massachusetts Bays Program, and several municipalities on the South Shore. It is sponsored by Aquarion Water Company in the towns of Hingham and Hull. For more information, please visit WaterSmartSouthShore.org.
The North and South Rivers Watershed Association is a non-profit membership organization that takes environmental action locally and focuses on the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of our water resources. To become a member of the NSRWA visit www.nsrwa.org