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To support the goals of the Division, the Committee is launching a blog on the TAWWA.org website to highlight existing utilities and programs across the state. This blog will provide valuable information on existing programs and highlight how more information on the programs can be obtained, thus creating an online database of water education resources.

 

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Protect the Source - - Drinking Water Week 2018

Posted By Karen E. Menard, Friday, April 6, 2018

 

Education Division – Consumer Outreach Committee Blog

 

All Things H2O                                     April 2018 Issue

 

 

 

 

Protect the Source - - Drinking Water Week 2018

 

 

The American Water Works Association celebrates Drinking Water Week every year during the first full week of May. In 2018, this falls on May 6 to 12. It’s a national campaign meant to raise awareness to the vital role that water plays in our community’s daily life.

 

I’m a relatively optimistic person, but when you work in water you’re mindful of the doom and gloom. We all know the statistics of the global water crisis--2.1 billion lack access to safe clean water at home and 4.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation at home.

 

In March, I got the opportunity to go to Imagine H2O’s Water Gala and Innovation Forum. Imagine H2O is a non profit whose primary objective is to drive innovation and technology in the water industry. One way they do this is through their Accelerator program that selects 12 startup companies from hundreds of applicants each year. These companies then get access to mentorship, training, and connected to potential clients and investors.

 

 

 

It was like being at water nerd summer camp. The energy was palpable. We didn’t sit around a campfire or sing songs but we did learn a lot. We walked away inspired by each other’s stories and energy. At the Water Gala the first night, Scott Bryan, the president of Imagine H2O, mentioned World Water Day which was the following week. He challenged us not to use the doom and gloom but instead to look around the room, be inspired, and to share that story instead.

 

Drinking Water Week is about inspiring our community, our customers, to value water the way we do. We can’t do that if we, ourselves, are not inspired. Texas Water™ is coming up this month. Use your time at Texas Water™ to reconnect with friends, get inspired, and get recharged. Can’t make it this year? You know someone that is. Set a date to meet up with them after they get back to hear what they learned. As a member of the education division, I have to shamelessly plug the Value of Water track at Texas Water™. The creativity of the planning committee alone has me convinced me those sessions will be quite engaging.

 

 

Bring that energy home, sit down with your team, and figure out how you’re going to represent your department to your community. Bring in people outside of water and get their ideas. Host a family picnic with some water-themed game; think water pong with rain barrels instead of beer pong. Show a movie you can tie to water that may not be as obvious as a water documentary; think a movie like The Martian where you can talk about how Matt Damon created a water source on Mars and how that ties to your water treatment process or water source. The bonus of a Matt Damon movie, besides Matt Damon obviously, is then you can tie in his charity, water.org. Now you have segway to discuss the global water crisis to give perspective. Water.org and Stella Artois made a fantastic video recently that really drives home the disparity of access to water that you can see here.

 

Partner with a local community art center and have local artists do live paintings with a water theme or Painting with a Twist (water with a twist of lemon that is). Reach out to local community groups to do tours of your plant. Share a playlist of your team’s favorite songs to listen to at work. For example, your water treatment plant technician might play Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust while monitoring the membrane filtration feed (disinfection) or your wastewater treatment operator might listen to Thriller by Michael Jackson when he inspects the bar screens at the intake.

 

Get your staff involved and tell their stories to humanize your department. Tell your stories in a way that resonates with your customers. Most importantly, have so much fun doing this that you make a commitment to do it regularly so that your customers don’t forget. Don’t be afraid to have fun. The relationships you build with your community now will be essential if things ever go less than perfect. Drinking Water Week comes once a year, but having fun with the community we serve shouldn’t.

 

About the Author:

Stephanie Zavala is CEO and Co-Founder of Rogue Water. Stephanie worked for various water utilities for ten years in the education and communication fields. She has a passion for creativity and community engagement. She excels at creating content that humanizes the men and women of the water industry and that makes water engaging for the everyday customer. Her proudest moments are writing a commemorative book and hosting a subsequent book launch for her former water utilities’ 100-year anniversary, as well as being a part of the first water utilities banquet at the city. Stephanie has received multiple awards in public education and communication from various agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association and the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.  Stephanie is a die-hard Horned Frog fan and has earned all of her degrees and certifications through her alma mater, Texas Christian University, including her Bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing, a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and her Public Communicator certification. 

 

Tags:  2018  awwa  drinking water week  protect the source 

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