Experts take water message to schools

Whakamarama School at the Hands on Water Expo. Supplied photo.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council's utilities team was in the thick of the action at the Hands on Water Expo, where 200 school children got to grips with the importance of waterways and doing their bit to keep them healthy.

The expo, on farmland near Paengaroa, was attended by children between the ages of 8-12 years from 21 schools in the Western Bay and Tauranga.

The expo featured fun-based interactive sites featuring waterways and the importance of treating them and the plant and fish life living in them, with respect.

The council's Three Waters presentation focused on drinking water quality. It featured a working display of our role in the management and provision of drinking water, wastewater treatment and disposal.

The children learnt about harmful bacteria and viruses in untreated water, and watched a working example of how water gets to home; how a mains break effects water pressure and supply and a wastewater pump demonstrated how wastewater gets to treatment plants.

Each pupil went home with a lolly that looks like a bug in a bottle, a dolphin or frog ball and a Veolia water bottle as a reminder of the conservation and preservation message.

Operations Manager Peter Edwards says council's presentation aimed to teach children how council makes sure drinking water is safe for human consumption and how council gets water to homes.

“We also showed how we ensure wastewater is handled so that only clean products are returned to the environment,” he says.

“By using practical examples and making their experience fun, we hope the children go home with a memorable experience. 

“Giving the pupils water bottles to fill with safe to drink water from council's reticulation system brought home the concept that council is always checking the potable water supply to make sure no bacteria or viruses can grow in the water.

Interactive activities included water sampling, the lifecycle of the endangered long fin eel, measuring water quality, recycling pollutants from waterways, discovering where stormwater goes, learning what not to flush down the drain and finding out which fish are pests or pals in our waterways.

Regional Council community engagement advisor Natalie Ridler says the expo helps children to understand the part they can play in keeping waterways safe.

“The aim is to give as many children from primary schools across the Bay an opportunity to participate in fun, hands-on learning to explore the kaupapa of freshwater including aspects of science, biodiversity, biosecurity, conservation and Māori perspectives.

“We were thrilled to fill all the spots at the expo this year with schools from all corners of the region. Some are already doing great work to care for local streams as a result of learning opportunities like this. We expect more will be inspired to do the same.''

Natalie says it is the fifth year the expo has been held and the involvement of local councils, volunteers and community groups made the event a huge success.


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