SUMMERFIELD, La. – "Reduce the use," Robin Bridges, LSU AgCenter agent in Claiborne Parish, told sixth graders in Charlotte Moring’s classroom at Summerfield School. "Water is the most precious natural resource we have, second only to air."
May is National Drinking Water Month. That’s a good reason to teach kids about water, where it comes from and how to conserve it, Bridges said.
Much of the drinking water for 15 North Louisiana parishes comes from groundwater in the Sparta Aquifer, an underground layer of gravel and porous stone that holds water.
According to data supplied by the U.S. Geological Survey, current use from the aquifer is 64 million gallons per day, and the breakeven usage is 52 million gallons per day, Bridges said. That means the Sparta Aquifer is losing 12 million gallons per day that aren’t being replaced.
People drink water every day, but they rarely think about where it comes from or how important it is, said Karen Martin, LSU AgCenter 4-H coordinator for the north central region.
"We use it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, showering, washing the car, irrigating farmlands, manufacturing – all kinds of things," she said.
Preventing the depletion of this aquifer can be done through easy, practical conservation practices without depriving people of water or changing their lifestyles, Martin said.
To help Louisiana residents learn about aquifers and their potential problems, the LSU AgCenter developed an educational program to promote water conservation. A version featuring the Sparta Aquifer was presented to sixth grade students in North Louisiana during National Drinking Water Week, May 7-13.
The program was designed so it can be presented to residents in other areas of Louisiana where people have concerns about aquifer depletion and saltwater intrusion.
"The plan includes programs and hands-on activities with groups to teach about water conservation and provided an educational fact sheet to every student in nine parishes," Martin said.
The fact sheet features a home water use survey that youth can take home to their parents to show the amount of water required for different activities in a home.
"We are confident the survey increased awareness about practices that waste water," Martin said. "Water-saving tips on the fact sheet explained water conservation measures.
"Our overall goal was to educate both youth and adults about practices that waste water and provide information about ways to conserve water. The more we learn about water, the better off we’ll be to meet the challenge of ensuring an adequate supply of fresh water to everyone," she said.
Bridges said the LSU AgCenter program was designed to give youth the information they need to make the right choices when they’re adults.
Bridges told the Summerfield students that the world population would double within 25 years, but the amount of water on the earth is finite.
"It was great," Shaquille Elliott, a student in the class, said of Bridges’ presentation.
Another student Kylie Singleton agreed. "I thought it was awesome," she said. "We should share water with the world and use less."
"It taught me a lot about water conservation and stuff I didn’t know about water," added Dustin Morrow, also a student in the class. "It probably will help me make changes."
Bridges wrapped up his presentation by telling the students conservation is always important.
"Everybody can be a part of water conservation," he said.