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Water Festival gives hands-on learning

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County students from multiple schools enjoyed learning about water during the annual Water Festival on March 13.

The event featuring multiple activities is hosted by the Alabama Forestry Commission, Chilton County Master Gardeners, Chilton County Extension Office and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

This was one of the last activities to take place before Chilton County Schools closed until April 5.

Students learned about the water cycle, water filtration and aquifers.

During the water filtration activity, Brian Smith of the Alabama Forestry Commission talked to students about common water pollutants, such as dirt, oil, paper and chemicals.

Students worked in groups to add vinegar, dirt, oil and paper to a cup of water. The vinegar represented chemicals.

“Every time you add something to the water, pay attention to what it does to the water,” Smith said.

Smith said it can sometimes be difficult to tell if water has been polluted, so it is important to be careful of what water they drink.

When dirt gets in water, it is called sedimentation, according to Smith.

“When sedimentation gets into our streams and stuff it kills those animals and smaller things that live in the water, so those larger animals that were feeding on those are no longer going to be there,” Smith said. “Eventually, it disrupts the whole food chain, so that is why it is very important to keep sedimentation out of the water.”

Groups tried a series of filters to get the water clear. With each step, the water became clearer. However, Smith said one would still not want to drink the water because of the vinegar still being in it.

He said this is why water treatment plants use chemicals to treat water that comes through the faucet.

“Those chemicals, they bond with the pollution in the water and form solids,” Smith said. “… It forms a solid and it falls to the bottom.”

Thorsby fourth-grade student Levi Powell and Danica Cleckler said this was something new they learned during the presentation.

Levi said he enjoyed “the fun activities” at the water festival.

“My favorite has to be when we made the (ice cream) floats,” Levi said.

This was an activity called “Edible Aquifers.”

Danica said she enjoyed “everything” about the water festival.

Her favorite part was getting to filter the water during the filtration presentation.