Students learn about aquifer at Water Fest

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Price, Teresa, Bridges, Robin D.

News Release Distributed 05/11/09

HOMER, La. – About 200 fifth- and sixth-graders from six Claiborne Parish schools learned about water conservation and water quality at Lake Claiborne State Park east of Homer May 7-8.

“Water education, whether conservation or quality, is a major youth education initiative throughout the state,” Robin Bridges, LSU AgCenter agent in Claiborne Parish, said of the event that featured specialists from the LSU AgCenter and other state and federal agencies.

“Reduce the use” is the mantra of a water conservation campaign spearheaded by the LSU AgCenter in north Louisiana, where people in 15 parishes depend on the gradually disappearing Sparta aquifer, Bridges said.

“If we do not educate future generations about conservation and reduced water usage, they will one day find an empty aquifer,” he said.

The children learned from Ben McGee with the U.S. Geological Survey that all of the water they use in Claiborne Parish comes from the ground.

“That formation is called an aquifer, which means water carrier,” McGee said. He explained that an aquifer is a thick underground layer of course material that holds water replenished through rain.

He said the Sparta aquifer is 40 million years old and 300 feet below the ground.

McGee said Claiborne Parish uses 3.2 million gallons of water a day, or as much as a pool as big as a football field and 7.5 feet deep. He told the students more is used than what naturally goes into the aquifer.

“Our water is a finite resource,” Bridges said. “Use it wisely and learn to use a little less. If you don’t have a source of water every three days, you die. This is a celebration of water, which is a celebration of life.”

Dr. Bill Branch, retired LSU AgCenter water specialist, returned to the event and told the youth they are fortunate.

“There are still people who do not have running water,” Branch said.

He demonstrated a flow meter and offered such water-conservation tips as using low-flow showerheads, putting a pistol grip on the hose to wash the car or washing it on the yard if the weather has been dry, washing dishes and clothes only when there is a full load and replacing gaskets on leaky faucets.

Branch said cutting back on water use also saves sewage and energy costs.

Joey Breaux with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries took the children through a maze he drew with chalk. It illustrated the route storm water takes in an urban setting and the pollutants it encounters.

He said fertilizers, salt, motor oil, dishwashing soap and paint used extensively or in the wrong way can cause problems.

“Don’t put anything in a storm drain,” he said.

Todd Sewell of the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Teresa Price, an LSU AgCenter agent, told the children the average family uses 230 gallons of water a day.

They divided the students into two teams that had to fill a 100-gallon container with lake water one bucket at a time, relay style. It took them 15 minutes.

Selena Lonidier said she actually enjoyed the relay. “I got exercise and am learning how to help the planet,” she said.

The lesson also taught the many uses of water – drinking, bathing, cleaning, washing, cooking, swimming, gardening and feeding pets and livestock.

Sewell and Price suggested the children keep a cold jug of water in the refrigerator, turn off the water while brushing their teeth and not water the lawn in the hottest part of the day.

Kishan Desai, a student at Mount Olive Christian School, said he could abide by those tips. “I can turn off the water when brushing my teeth,” he said.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

5/12/2009 2:04:35 AM
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