On Friday, May 16, the Sahuarita Water Company helped 400 fourth graders get hands-on water education at the inaugural Sahuarita-Green Valley Water Festival. The festival, part of a statewide education program organized by the University of Arizona, was the first Arizona Water Festival in the Southern Arizona region. The event was coordinated by Arizona Project WET, a UA program to develop water resource stewardship, and engaged 35 volunteers in addition to several local organizations, including the Sahuarita Water Company.
The one-day event was held at Sahuarita Middle School, where students participated in activities and demonstrations to explore the groundwater system, watersheds, water conservation and the water cycle. This education in water use and conservation is particularly relevant in Sahuarita, where the community relies heavily on groundwater pumping for water supply.
“The bulk of the water that serves Sahuarita is groundwater, so it’s very important for our kids to understand how groundwater works and how it can be conserved,” said Jennifer Lyon of the Sahuarita Water Company, which guided a session on groundwater. The session highlighted how groundwater moves through rock, sediment and other earth material, and also how it is pumped out of the earth before arriving in the tap at home.
Using water tinted with food coloring, the groundwater demonstration depicted how water moves through the earth before reaching a body of water or pump. The students were also able to operate a demonstration water pump, similar to those used to extract groundwater.
“The bottom line, and what we’re trying to teach kids, is that it’s about conservation,” said Lyon. “We want kids to understand that it’s difficult to get water where we live, and we don’t have unending resources. We need to take care of our groundwater and be smart about water use and conservation at home.”
In addition to teaching conservation basics to Sahuarita students, the Water Festival is part of a multi-prong effort to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in Sahuarita schools. “Through our strategic partnerships with the regional community, including the University of Arizona, we learned about this meaningful, hands-on educational program,” said Superintendent Manuel Valenzuela, EdD. “It supports valid STEM learning objectives, incorporates effective learning practices, and ties strongly to a critical issue in our region, effective use of water resources. This was yet another example of how we can best serve the community by intentionally working together.”
The Sahuarita-Green Valley Water Festival is supported by a grant from the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.