Lincoln Parish fifth-graders learn about water, aquifer

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Stockton, Gary A., Owens, William E., Price, Teresa

During the 2010 Water Festival in Ruston, La., Tenell McDonald of A.E. Phillips School in Lincoln Parish looks at bacteria through a microscope with assistance from LSU AgCenter faculty member Bill Owens. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

LSU AgCenter agent Teresa Price (second from left) helps a relay team member empty water into a 100-gallon container to get an idea of how much water a family uses in a day. The event took place during the 2010 Water Festival in Ruston, La. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

News Release Distributed 10/18/10

RUSTON, La. – About 500 fifth-graders from Lincoln Parish schools spent a day at Lincoln Parish Park where specialists from the LSU AgCenter and other state and federal agencies taught them about conservation and water quality at the 2010 Water Festival Oct. 14-15.

Water education is a major youth education initiative throughout the state, said Gary Stockton, LSU AgCenter agent.

“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, he said.

The children learned from Jeff Brantly with the U.S. Geological Survey that the water they use in Lincoln Parish comes from underground. He explained that an aquifer is a thick underground layer of coarse material that holds water replenished through rain.

Lincoln Parish uses eight million gallons a day – enough to fill a pool as large as a football field 19 feet deep, Brantly said. He told the students more water is taken from the the aquifer than is replenished.

“It’s like a car and gas,” Brantly said. “What is eventually going to happen? You’re going to run out.”

Bill Branch, a former LSU AgCenter water specialist, demonstrated a flow meter and offered such tips on how to conserve water 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, only running dishwashers and clothes washers with a full load and replacing gaskets on leaky faucets.

“Every month most families are using a tanker truck-full of water,” Branch said.

Bill Owens, LSU AgCenter Hill Farm resident coordinator, let children look at bacteria through a microscope in a water-quality lesson. “We have to ensure water is safe by constantly checking,” he said.

One session 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, said Teresa Price, LSU AgCenter agent in Claiborne Parish where a similar program is held.

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

“We should conserve water because we don’t have that much,” Ketravion Smith of Cypress Springs School said after the lesson.

“A tiny leak in a toilet wastes a lot,” said Cuban Luma.

“I will turn off the water when I brush my teeth,” added Ju’Quaryo Elmore.

“I want to save the planet,” said Lamoris Albritton, who wants to be a water well technician.

“All seemed to have a good time and learned the basics,” said Hazel Hunter, Lincoln Parish police juror. “I am happy to see school kids out here in an outdoor classroom on how to conserve water. They will take it home to their parents.

“Having volunteers from all parts of Louisiana is wonderful,” she added.

The event was organized by the Sparta Ground Water Commission.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

1/4/2011 1:13:15 AM
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