Through the efforts of St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA), seventh-graders from John H. Woodson Junior High School had the opportunity Tuesday to tour the Water and Power Authority’s water plant in observance of World Water Day.
The students saw presentations on desalination, reverse osmosis, water testing, water distribution, waste water treatment, protecting St. Croix’s watershed, protection of coastal resources and the water cycle.
In 1993 the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 as World Water Day to bring awareness about the importance of clean healthy water and conservation.
The students appeared awed by the plant as they walked through the turn stile, one at a time, until it dawned on them the faster route was to walk directly through the large main gate.
The students went off in assigned groups of eight going from one interactive learning station to the next in an orderly fashion. Most of the students had notebooks, were taking notes and appeared engaged.
Carol Cramer-Burke, SEA program director, explained the water cycle where water moves through the atmosphere, earth’s surface and beneath the ground. The students played a game of catch going from one part of the cycle to the next.
Duane Sydney, a Seven Seas Water process operator, explained the reverse osmosis process. Using a banner with graphics, he explained the whole process from the sea water flowing into the plant to the water flowing out of a tap.
Dan Detterville, WAPA environmental lab supervisor, told the students how the authority runs tests daily to make sure the water going out to the public is safe. Lucas David, intern, and Brian Stuart, plant operator for Seven Seas, showed the students a cross-section of the water filters used in desalination.
Charmin Springer, education outreach specialist from V.I. Waste Management Authority, told the students about managing waste and the water that goes down the drain to the waste treatment plant. She told the students that 4.5 million gallons of wastewater is treated daily on St. Croix.
Springer told the students to never put grease, fats or oil down the drain. She explained how it hardens and plugs up the pipes which could break allowing sewage to run into the sea.
Buckney Small from DPNR Coastal Zone Management showed the students, using a neat diorama, how development and farming can affect the sea water in the runoff.
Migdalia Roach, DPNR outreach coordinator at the East End Marine Park, explained what a watershed is and the importance of keeping it clean. The students then played a computer game of Jeopardy on the facts she presented.
“It was a really great educational experience learning the process of how we get our water and the desalination of it,” Nafeesa King said.
“The most important thing I learned today is we shouldn’t take water for granted,” said Khadija Baltimore. “And we shouldn’t waste water.”
Lynnea Roberts, St. Croix Environmental Association education coordinator, said the tour was part of the educational and investigative field trip series. The goal of organizers is to make students aware of the many ways they can protect and conserve natural resources. She said since they have cisterns they do understand a little about water conservation. Roberts said she hopes now the children also realize the importance of clean water.