The weight of water

Students learn about our valuable water supply. - Brian Jennings
Students learn about our valuable water supply.
— image credit: Brian Jennings

Think back to your morning. Did you brush your teeth? Take a shower? Make a pot of coffee?What is the common ingredient of those activities? The answer is as close as your kitchen sink.Water. What a precious resource. Without it nothing survives.

One thousand Kitsap fourth graders will soon learn the importance of water and how to protect it at the annual Water Festival on May 3 at the Kitsap Fairgrounds.

In its 17th year, the Water Festival teaches life long water stewardship to young members of the community. Through hands-on and entertaining presentations, students learn where water comes from and how to use it wisely.

Debbie Thomas, an organizer from Kitsap Public Utilities District, calls the festival  a celebration of water.

“We want [students] to realize the importance of water and how everything is connected by water in their environment,” Thomas said.

Presenters include the Environmental Protection Agency, Navy Divers, Poggie Club (which promotes salmon enhancement) and the Water Wizard who emcees “Dripial Pursuit,” a trivia game about all things water.

As anyone who has been 10-years-old knows, it’s imperative for activities and presentations to be engaging, Thomas said. The best way to teach children is through memorable lessons and activities.

Magician Steffan Soule will perform a magic routine based on water and recycling. Thomas said Soule’s show is always a highlight of the festival.

Students from Ordway Elementary on Bainbridge Island will perform a play demonstrating the life cycle of salmon.

During free time, children practice gyotaku, a traditional Japanese art form that uses real fish as stencils to make prints.

At the festival, students partake in a “No Waste Lunch.” Leftover food items will be composted or recycled. Students are asked to pack their lunch with reusable containers to further cut down on the trash generated. Thomas said during past festivals, there was almost no garbage. Properly disposing of waste is one way to help ensure clean water.

The day-long field trip is a no-cost event for schools. Students from Kitsap’s five school districts attend, as well as children from private schools. Local water and utility companies cover the cost of bus transportation for the students.

To pull off a successful event for such a large number of students, organizers from local public works and utility departments join to assist with the planning.

“We all have different roles and work really well together,” Thomas said.

Community volunteers help out as well. With some dedicated and committed souls volunteering year after year.

“There is so much energy at the festival,” Thomas said. “Everyone has a real passion about what they are doing.”

It’s nice to know that a life-sustaining item such as water is celebrated.  Water Festivals happen throughout the country, not just in Kitsap.

Hopefully, the fourth graders leave the festival enlightened about the significance of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. How about you? Take the quiz to see if you are water wise.

Question 1: True or false

The world has the same amount of water today as when water first formed on the earth.

True. Moving from gas to liquid to solid ice, water molecules travel through the hydrologic cycle which supports all life on earth. We may be drinking the same water that passed through a dinosaur.

Question 2: True or false Scientists figure that ¾ of the earth is covered in water, yet 0.5 percent is available for us to use.

True. Most of the water covered the earth is salt water or in the form of ice.

Question 3: Where does most of our drinking water in Kitsap County come from?

a.  Seattle

b. Olympic Mountain runoff

c.  Puget Sound

d.  Groundwater

Answer: d

Question 4: Rainfall that does not soak in the ground to replenish our groundwater does what?

a.  Evaporates

b.  Runs off into streams and the Puget Sound

c.  Transpires through vegetation back into the water cycle

d.  All of the above

Answer: d

Question 5: How do impervious (hard) surfaces affect our water resources?

a.  Help provide water to streams—the more hard surfaces the better

b.  Keep water from soaking into the ground

c.  Send more pollutants to streams and waterways

d.  Help fish survive

e.  b and c

Answer: e

Score your water knowledge:

All correct: Water Wizard

3-4 correct: Super Soaker

1-2 correct: Mediocre Misty

None: Desert Dry

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