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Partner Blog

Information of use to those who serve private well owners.

Celebrating Earth Day with the Peoria Clean Water Celebration

On April 23, Ken Hlinka, Katie Buckley, and Hideyuki Terashima represented the Illinois State Water Survey at the 26th SUN Foundation Clean Water Celebration in Peoria, IL. The Sun Foundation for the Advancement on the Environmental Sciences and Arts is organized exclusively for education, scientific, and charitable purposes. The event took place in the Peoria Civic Center from 9:00AM to 2:00PM where 337 volunteers from 39 groups, organizations, and agencies were represented, including the Illinois EPA, The Dickson Mounds Museum, Girl Scouts of America, Living Lands and Waters, and more. The event was attended by 2,043 students and 153 adults from 37 different schools.

ISWS staff described the water cycle, demonstrated how groundwater moves under the ground using two different sand tank models, and demonstrated a hand pump for the middle schoolers in attendance. Students were asked about the water cycle, which many students were already familiar with, so they were encouraged to describe the parts of the cycle on their own before the focus was turned to groundwater. Using the two groundwater flow models, a Septic System Simulator and Groundwater Flow Simulator, they described how groundwater and contaminants flow through the ground. Using colored dye, they showed how contamination can flow towards private wells. The take home message really resonated with some of the students as they asked questions and wanted to experiment with different contamination scenarios. For the hand pump demonstration, the setup showed where water comes from and staff described the parts of the well. 

For this event, students were given a set of questions that they had to get answered at each booth as they walked through the exhibit hall. Our questions were: 

1. Water flows through the ground like _______ flows through a wire.

2. What should a private well owner do every year? Each student had to pay attention to the demonstration to get the answers they needed.

Events like the Clean Water Celebration are a unique opportunity to share information with students in an engaging and memorable way that they won’t get in the classroom. If you have an event list this in your area, we encourage you to participate and share your knowledge of private well and groundwater issues. If not, consider developing a stakeholder group to put one on. Private well and groundwater issues are not common curriculum in most schools, events like these can leave a lasting impression on a young student, especially if they live on a private well.

Hideyuki Terashima said, “I could tell that with some of the kids, it really just clicked. Seeing them experience groundwater hands-on really resonated with them."