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Connecting Our Communities

Local students among those booked to take part in the Groundwater Festival

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Local elementary school students will make their way to the Waterloo Region Museum next week to learn more about a vital resource in the region.

John Mahood PS in Elmira, Breslau PS and Wellesley PS are among local schools taking part in the upcoming Waterloo Wellington Groundwater Festival.

The event aims to raise environmental awareness in an educational and fun atmosphere. Festival coordinator Susan Reid said 1,000 students are booked in each day from the Region of Waterloo, County of Wellington and City of Guelph.

“We’re trying to raise awareness and have some social change – students take home messages that empower them to make changes within their own homes,” said Reid. “That’s really our ultimate goal. If you have a better understanding of where your water comes from, you have a better appreciation of why we need to protect it and conserve it and understand how we use water.”

The event explores topics including but not limited to the science of groundwater, the water cycle, groundwater as a resource, the results interactions between people and water, and the effects it has on the environment.

Groundwater is a crucial water resource within the Grand River Watershed: more than 80 per cent of residents rely on groundwater as a source of clean, safe drinking water. It’s a resource that often goes overlooked, with Reid noting many people aren’t really aware of just how much water they use as they go about their day.

“There are different averages; the Canadian average is pretty high, it’s about 325 litres per person per day, but in the region, it’s about 225 litres,” said Reid. “Our washroom is our biggest user of water – toilets, showers. The toilet probably uses the most water out of everything in your house.”

Globally, the average is 300 to 375 litres of water consumed daily.

In bringing attention to water issues, the festival lines up some 50 interactive activities  to help put things into perspective for the students.

“For some of the water conservation ones, there’s one called ‘Lather Up’ where the students get to wear raincoats and rubber boots: there are two shower stalls, and the students go in, and we time their showers,” explained Reid.

“One takes a short shower, and one takes a long shower, and then there are physical pails where we get to see how much water we use by taking a longer shower. Then they can figure out how much water they’re using on a daily basis.”

This is the 24th year of the festival, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. The general public is welcome to attend, but it is geared towards the Grade 2-5 students that are bused in. Reid said there had been a few tweaks over the years, depending on what the up-to-date water issues are.

“There have been ongoing changes, we try to stay current with what the current water issues are,” said Reid. “So every year we add in a few new activities and take a few maybe and put them on the shelf for another year.”

The festival will see some 5,000 students come out to learn more about groundwater from May 24-30.

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