Santa Claus is Moving to Town Revisited

In the spirit of the holiday season (decorations are already on sale at your local stores) and recycling, this week’s blog from Laurie Loftin, Program Specialist, is a recycled blog post to celebrate Christmas in July!

superman santa

“Superman’s Father,” by Funkwood. Won 4th place in The Secret Life of Santa 7 photo effects contest at

Look, up in the sky!  It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  It’s an Amazon drone.  It’s Santa Claus!  Yes, it’s Santa Claus.  A jolly old elf from the North Pole who comes to visit good girls and boys with gift giving abilities far beyond those of mortal men.  Santa Claus, who can slide down the tightest of chimneys, make gazillions of toys with his bare hands, and fights a never-ending battle to promote consumerism, as it is the American way.

This December, remember to take part in another exciting episode in the adventures of Santa Claus.  On Christmas Eve track his flight across the world, thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).  Using radar, satellites, SantaCams, and jet fighters, the NORAD is the envy of the NSA every Christmas, as they keep children everywhere up to date with the surveillance of St. Nick.  The official tracking website, which is currently offering to send birthday greetings from Santa so he can make it through the off season, allows your little ones to see how far the sleigh is from their home, play holiday games, and listen to well-loved Christmas carols.

Now to tie this blog to water.  Santa Claus’ legendary workshop is located in the North Pole.  I admit I only think of the North Pole in December and when recycling this blog.  The location brings to mind images of snowy white landscapes and mountains of ice.  This past winter I was curious as to what the North Pole looks like during the other seasons of the year.


Yes, Virginia, these trees don’t grow at the North Pole.

Much to my dismay, I once again confirmed to myself how completely misinformed I am about most topics.  Relying only on the teachings of claymation classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Year Without Santa Claus,” I incorrectly believed Santa’s workshop in the North Pole to be a fixed location on snow-covered land.  I have since learned a few things as shocking as if someone told me Santa isn’t real.

First, there are two North Poles.  One is the North “Magnetic” Pole, the other is the geographic location.  No wonder no one has been able to find Santa’s legendary workshop!  Which area should one search?  To further add to the confusion, the  North Magnetic Pole is constantly moving – about 35 miles a year - due to magnetic changes in the Earth’s core.  Can you imagine the headache this must cause Santa?  He could leave to deliver presents and, because of the different time-space continuum he exists in, return to his workshop only to discover the whole setup has moved somewhere else!

The other thing I learned is the North Pole, be it the North Magnetic Pole or the Geographic North Pole, is not made up of any land mass.  It is made mostly out of shifting sea ice, aka frozen water.  Santa’s magical workshop sits on top of solid WATER!  Without water the North Pole of claymation and Santa’s workshop would not exist.  I knew water was important, but I didn’t realize the legend of Santa Claus depends on this natural resource for his survival.

north pole

Images of North Pole at different times of the year.

Last summer images from near the Geographic North Pole caused a bit of controversy.  The headline grabbing news shouted the North Pole is melting!  Climate change believers and non-believers sought to disprove each other.  But neither group could deny the image of a lake in the North Pole.  Ice was melting.  Apparently this is not out of the ordinary.  Axel Schweiger, who heads the Applied Physics Laboratory’s Polar Science Center, and other researchers explained in Science Daily that it is not unusual to find a melt pond on an ice floe during summer months.  I guess Santa Claus is use to the possibility of the ice below his workshop melting come mid-July?

I encourage you to use the NORAD Santa tracker every year to locate the North Pole and follow Mr. Claus on his epic journey.  I also suggest NORAD keep the tracker up and running after Christmas.  With the geographical headaches Santa must encounter every year, I wouldn’t be surprised if the jolly old elf soon decides to change his zip code.  Perhaps  he could move closer to China or Thailand.  The tracker could alert us to when and where Santa relocates, making it easier to prove his existence.   And maybe we could finally get a new, exciting, claymation adventure entitled “Santa Claus is Movin’ to Town”.

Merry Christmas in July to All – enjoy the gift of water.


Water You Going to Do This Summer?

This week’s blog is from Lily Cason, the new graduate assistant at the Water Conservation Office.

The majority of Athens Clarke County gets its water from three sources: the North Oconee River, the Middle Oconee River, and the Bear Creek Reservoir.  That water is processed at the J.G. Beacham Water Treatment plant and then sent out to be used for drinking, watering lawns, processing in industries, supplying fire hydrants, you name it.  In honor of Lake Appreciation Month we are encouraging you to get out and enjoy some recreation on the lakes and rivers of Athens Clarke County (keeping in mind that some of those places are where we get our drinking water). Need some help figuring out where to start? Here are some ways to enjoy water recreation around Athens:


  1. Go fishing.  Fishing is allowed at Memorial Park (most commonly caught fish are bream and catfish), off the Greenway, or at Lake Chapman (large-mouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, crappie, and bream). A Georgia DNR fishing license is required and fishing regulations must be observed. Fishing at Memorial Park or the Greenway is free. Fishing is free at Lake Chapman as well but you do have to pay the $2 park entrance fee to get into Sandy Creek Park.
  2. Take your dog for a walk around Lake Herrick behind the UGA Intramural Fields.  The Oconee Forrest Park has over 1.5 miles of trails going through the oak-hickory forest and around Lake Herrick. There is also an ADA Accessible Boardwalk for enjoying the scenery of the lake. There is no entrance fee for the Oconee Forrest Park.
  3. Swim at Lake Chapman in Sandy Creek Park.  The beach is open during park hours which are currently Tuesday-Sunday from 7am to sunset. The park is closed on Mondays. Entrance fee for the park is $2 per person for ages 4-64 and free for everyone else. There is no lifeguard at the beach so adults should supervise children at all times.  Sandy Creek Park also has picnic areas and grills for you to use once you’re done swimming.


  1. Take a bike ride along the North Oconee River on the Greenway.  The Greenway has 3.75 miles of paved trails that so you can easily enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. The path goes from Sandy Creek Nature Center to the edge of the UGA campus with several designated parking areas along the way.  From the path you can learn about Athens’ historical river mills, Civil War earthworks, and old railroad lines.  The path also welcomes walkers, runners, and their four-legged friends (as long as they are on leash).  There is no charge to use the North Oconee River Greenway.  Check out the Greenway’s website for a map and more information:
  2. Look for wildlife while hiking beside the Middle Oconee River at the State Botanical Gardens. The White Trail (3.22 miles total) and the Orange trail (1.17 miles total) meander along the river bank for a few miles. These trails are great for viewing native plants, birds, and sometimes even an otter.  There is no charge to enjoy the hiking trails at the State Botanical Gardens but you can leave a donation at the visitor’s center if you feel so inclined.  Take note that dogs are not allowed. See their website for more information:
  3. Enjoy a float down the river—one of my personal favorite ways to cool off in the summer. Big Dogs on the River provides kayak rentals and a ride upstream so that you can enjoy the sights and the sounds of the Middle Oconee River.  Kayaking down the river provides a perspective on Athens that is rare to experience otherwise.  Kayak rental is generally $20 per person. Student discounts may be available. I recommend that you call before you go 706-353–6002

Still need more options? Check out Ben Burton Park on the Middle Oconee River, Dudley Park on the North Oconee River, or the trails at Sandy Creek Nature Center.  You can also volunteer with local organizations such as River’s Alive (, UOWN (, or the Georgia River Network ( to promote the health of our local rivers.  Enjoy yourself outside this summer!

Create The Perfect Job Title, Part I

This week’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, Program Specialisthelp-wanted-sign-1isp2ac

I need your help.  I have a task for you and it is not an easy one.  I ask you to create The Perfect Job Title.

The title must be descriptive enough so someone outside the profession has a general idea of what the work entails.  You want the chosen name to give the potential employee pride when announcing their position.   A perfect job title acts as a recruiting tool, so proper wording is vital to attract future applicants.  After careful consideration of every aspect of the job, condense the description into two to four words.

To assist you with this undertaking, let me give you a sampling of the normal duties required of the prospective applicant:

  • Protect the environment from harmful pollutants, impurities, and toxins.
  • Ensure a clean water supply and the good public health of your community.
  • Return reclaimed water, biosolids, and air back to the environment.
  • Conduct laboratory tests, such as biochemical oxygen demand, dissolved oxygen, suspended solids, and pH, required by the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulations.
  • Understand and abide by guidelines of the Clean Water Act.
  • Complete reports and monitoring of all facility equipment to stay within permits.
  • Work with potentially harmful chemicals and hazardous materials.
  • Understand microbiology in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem of microogranisms.
  • Stay abreast of the constantly changing technology in the field.
  • Monitor, operate, and repair all pumps, engines, generators, meters, digesters, blowers, centrifuges, aerators, and gauges in the facility.
  • Remain on call to respond to emergencies and breakdowns in equipment.
  • Maintain the current state licensing and certificates required for employment.
  • Perform other related duties as required.

So you have the assignment.  Craft The Perfect Job Title to sum up the job duties listed above in two to four words.  Please share your suggestions as a comment to this post or on our Facebook page.  Anyone who gives a suggestion is entered into a drawing to win an awesome prize.  I will compile the proposed titles for a future blog in which I share what led me on the quest for The Perfect Job Title.

Thank you for your help.

Stonewashed Jeans, Minus the Washed

This week’s blog post was written by WCO intern Laura Keys and does not necessarily reflect the clothes-washing views of the Water Conservation Office.

How many gallons of water does it take to make a pair of jeans?

When you ask a classroom of young students this question, you might get responses ranging from 0 to 100. Imagine the shock on their faces when you tell them it can take more than 1,000 gallons of water just to bring them one pair of blue jeans! And that’s only half the story.  Once the jeans make it to your home, the water used to wash them can double the amount of water used over their entire lifespan. That’s more than 2,000 gallons of water for just one pair of blue jeans.

What is a hip, clean, water cotton-and-skyconservation-minded person to do? On the one hand, it’s nice to have new, clean clothes, but on the other hand, there are already parts of the world that are feeling the pressures of water shortages. It’s hard to justify using so much water for fashion. The CEO of legendary jeans company Levi Strauss is tackling the problem in 2 ways. First, he’s using Levi’s economic and fashion influence to revolutionize how cotton is grown and how jeans are manufactured; growing and irrigating cotton is by far the largest use of water in the manufacturing process. Second, he’s not washing his jeans.

Say what? That’s right; Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh, designer Tommy Hilfiger, journalist Anderson Cooper, and a handful of other designers, fashion experts, and celebrities admit to rarely washing their jeans. Apparently when you wear one pair of jeans enough, they become incredibly comfortable, and washing them takes away a little bit of that “second skin” feel (not to mention all the little skin particles you’ve shed into them). It also wears the jeans out faster and requires water and electricity.

Levi’s has put a lot of effort into creating a more sustainable process for producing their jeans, supporting better ways to harvest cotton and creating more energy-efficient factories. It’s nice to see the CEO taking these ideas to heart and actually embodying them in his everyday life, but I wondered what he was doing to maintain his jeans between washes. Surely the CEO of a major company like Levi’s has some special tricks to keep him looking (and smelling) professional and fresh.

Turns out that Bergh does have a preferred trick to keeping his jeans from smelling: every month (or 2 or 3) he pops his jeans into the freezer for a few days. Doing so kills off some of the odor-causing bacteria without changing the worn-in feel of the jeans. I’ve never tried this myself, but several of the celebrities swear by it. And when he spills the inevitable mustard, red wine, or juice on his pants? He spot treats spills and stains with a damp sponge or some added soap or detergent for the tough jobs. Anderson Cooper, on the other hand, says he likes to shower in his jeans! I feel like this sort of counts as washing, but it also counts as conservation by getting double-use out of your shower water.

My personal favorite idea, and one that I regularly use for drying my washed clothes, is to hang them outside in the sun. Direct sunlight will kill off most bacteria on any exposed surface within a few hours, and both odor- and illness-causing bacteria alike will be removed without washing the jeans.

To wash or not to wash? Judging by the discussions on the internet, this is clearly a controversial topic! Opinions range from washing once a year to washing after EVERY use. I think it’s safe to say that for normal everyday wear for most adults, jeans probably shouldn’t be washed after every wear. Obviously there are exceptions, but if you can’t see or smell problems after one wear, you probably don’t need to wash them yet. I personally have a friend, Shoshana (*name changed to protect the dirty), who admits to never having washed her go-to jeans EVER, and she’s had them for at least 2 years. She wears them a lot, and they look great and don’t smell.  It kind of inspires me to try freezing my jeans next time…

Benjamin Franklin did Not Discover Electricity

This week’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, with credit given to EPA WaterSense as a guest blogger

During a thunderstorm the last thing I want to do is fly a kite, but on this day (June 10) in 1752 Benjamin Franklin did just that.  Contrary to popular myth, Franklin did not discover electricity.  This happened thousands of years earlier.  According to the Franklin Institute, his kite experiment proved his theory that lightning is an electric current in nature. This current is created within the water cycle.  Water droplets, in the process of evaporation and condensation, repeatedly collide into each other to create a charge separation resulting in positive and negative ions.  Think of the static electricity you create by rubbing a balloon against your head.  Eventually these negative charges at the bottom of the cloud attract to the positive charges on the ground and KABOOM!  You have observed electricity created with the help of the amazing water cycle.

Lightning is not the only way to see electricity made with the help of water.  Look at your computer screen, listen to the music playing through your speakers, and feel the cool air in your climate controlled room.  All of these are possible with electricity…and water.  Generating electricity relies on water to cool towers.  Water is necessary to refine fossil fuels and grow crops for bio-fuels.  The power industry’s demand for water is second only to agriculture.  In turn, we must have electricity to treat, heat, and deliver clean water to our homes.

Though we generally don’t want water and electricity to mix, these two elements intertwine.  Today’s blog combines a page from the EPA’s WaterSense website.  They invite you to Make the Drops-to-Watts Connection:

It’s Time for a New Way to Think About Water and Energy
plug With climate change concerns, pervasive droughts, and high energy prices across the country, nearly everyone is looking for ways to conserve resources and cut costs. By looking for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® label, your family can use less water, energy, and money while ensuring product performance.

Many Americans know about the importance of saving energy and water. But few know about the drops to watts connection—that it takes energy to pump, heat, treat, and deliver the water we use every day. We turn on the bathroom lights and the shower without realizing how closely related water and energy are to each other.

Drops & Watts: You Can’t Have One Without the Other
dishwasherOn average, the annual energy used to deliver and treat water for only 10 households could power a refrigerator for more than two years. In some areas of the country, that estimate is very low. Heating water for showering, bathing, shaving, cooking, and cleaning also requires a considerable amount of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-fourth of their total electric bills just to heat water.

How Can We Start Saving?
One of the simplest ways to save both water and energy is to install water–efficient products. WaterSense water senselabeled products not only save water, but can help reduce your energy bills. Installing WaterSense labeled faucet aerators in your bathrooms, for example, costs just a few dollars but could save you enough electricity to dry your hair every day for a year!

You can choose from thousands of models of WaterSense labeled plumbing products. What’s more, you can be sure the products will not only save resources, but will perform well. All WaterSense labeled products are tested and independently certified to ensure they meet EPA’s criteria for both efficiency and performance.

Start saving both water and energy! Look for WaterSense labeled products and ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances that use water. For more information, visit

An intern’s intro to the WCO

This week’s blog post written by intern Laura Keys

My first two weeks as an intern with the Water Conservation Office have been a sample platter for some of the stuff this office does, and man, are they busy! From working with kids in local schools to throwing a rain barrel auction, this office knows how to get stuff done and perhaps more importantly, how to deal with unanticipated blocks in the road.

In my first week, I shadowed Marilyn, Laurie, and Christine (from Public Works) as they led activities for 2nd graders at Cleveland Road Elementary. It was great seeing how each used her own unique teaching style to connect with the students. (Also, it’s hard to go wrong with parachute games!) Some of the best on-your-feet-thinking happened with Laurie’s activity. Laurie’s plan was to play frog songs from various species and have the kids guess which frog’s call went with which. For the first 2 groups that came through her station, this activity worked great. However, the third group to visit her proved a bit more challenging.

Cleveland Road Elementary is one of the main schools in Athens-Clarke County that caters to deaf children, and this third group had 4 deaf students. A half hour of guessing frog sounds wouldn’t have been much fun for these 4 kids who couldn’t hear! Luckily, Laurie had brought a number of activities and pulled out a different game that the whole class could enjoy. Talk about the importance of being prepared!

My second week culminated in Roll Out the Barrels, a fundraising event for environmental education in Athens-Clarke County schools. The Water Conservation Office joined forces with the ACC Stormwater and Recycling divisions to prepare for the event, setting up tables, decorating the Lyndon House courtyard, and prepping 20 rain barrels for silent auction. The sun was out, and the temperature was perfect for an evening garden party, but there was a strong wind blowing early in the day.

We tried not to let the wind bother us, using tape, table legs, and even strategically placed stones to hold down bid sheets and tablecloths, but the wind proved too strong and kept stripping our tablecloths off the tables. All it took was one glass candle holder tumbling off the billowing tablecloth and shattering on the ground to make the decision to go sans tablecloths. The naked tables we were left with didn’t quite match the envisioned elegant decoration scheme, but we made it work, and none of the guests were the wiser.

Because the WCO deals with the public and schools, they have to be super flexible, especially in dealing with scheduling and groups that aren’t quite what they anticipated. The lesson I’m taking away from my first two weeks is to be prepared but stay flexible!

Who Knew Crickets Could Taste So Good?


Phileap is a permitted green tree frog who lives at the Water Conservation Office.

This week’s blog is by Laurie Loftin, Water Conservation Program Specialist and Chef

Sharing an office space with a frog means I see my fair share of crickets. Phileap, the name bestowed upon our amphibious office mate, eats up to ten of these little hoppers every week. My personal experience with crickets led me to the realization that these insects are disgusting. Sure, I appreciate the comforting chirp of the male cricket on a warm evening. However, this soothing sound is quickly forgotten as I clean up their waste (they make a lot of it for such a tiny thing), chase the occasional escapees around the office, or remove their dead bodies and leg parts from the Cricket Keeper. While performing the cricket chores, I never once thought I’d like to eat one. But how fun it would be to feed them to others… But who?

Go, Little Lily!

Little Lily is the Water Conservation Ambassador. She visits with local classrooms for extended time periods to help Athens use water wisely.

Finally, the perfect occasion presented itself. Our water conservation ambassador, Little Lily, had been to visit several local classrooms to teach children to care for our water. Her yearlong visit was coming to an end and we were planning a going away party for Little Lily and the students. Why not make choco-chirp cookies for party food? The cookie would be a special party treat, the crickets tie in to frogs, and, if the cookies tasted terrible, the children would certainly gain a great appreciation for a glass of water. It was perfect!

But how do I make choco-chirp cookies? I needed a recipe. I contacted an expert, Dr. Marianne Shockley with the University of Georgia Entomology Department. She told me she had a “VERY SIMPLE” recipe. She purchases store-bought cookie dough, roasts the crickets until crunch, and then adds the crickets to top of the cookie dough before cooking. Simple?!?!? This recipe only brought up more questions. Where do you purchase crickets of food grade quality? How do I roast a cricket? Do I pop them into a baking dish and quickly put the lid on to keep them from hopping out? Do I wash them first? How does one determine “crunch”?

Dr. Shockley helped me through my mini-cricket crisis.  Turns out if the cricket is good enough for frog consumption, it is good enough for human consumption. I purchased 325 crickets from our local pet store. This bag of crawling crickets went straight into the freezer at work. (People who share an office with me just love me.) For concerned animal lovers, inducing hypothermia is a humane way to prepare the crickets for the next step.


Bloated, wet, and sterile crickets. Makes you hungry, doesn’t it?

With the crickets subdued or no longer with us, I brought a pot of water to boil and added the bag of frozen crickets. I kept telling myself this is very similar to adding a bag of frozen shrimp to the water. To ensure sterilization, I let them boil for about five minutes, then poured them into a colander. I knew right then, looking at wet, bloated crickets, there was NO WAY I would taste a choco-chirp cookie.

Per Dr. Shockley’s instructions, I next spread the chirpers onto a baking sheet, sprayed them with some cooking oil, and  sprinkled salt on for flavor. Yeah, the salt should help. The sheet of insects then went into the oven at 400 to bake “until they are crunchy.” As the crickets roasted, I tried to figure out what the strange smell was in my house. Did the dog pass gas? Was something rotting in my trash can? I determined it was the smell of crickets baking.

I used blind faith rather than a taste test to determine an hour in the oven would produce a cricket with the “extra crispy” status Dr. Shockley recommends. Then onto the next step: appendage removal. The crickets went into a brown bag and then shaken, not stirred. (The martini reference is intentional, as at this moment I wanted a drink.) I then poured the cricket bodies and legs back onto the baking sheet.


Roasted, salted, and extra crispy crickets. Sounds like a great snack!

I scooped rounded teaspoons full of prepared cookie dough onto parchment paper. Easy, but how do I get the crickets on top. Tweezers would be nice, but I use the ones in my house for my eyebrows, not cricket transport. I knew I should just grow up and pick them up with my fingers, but I couldn’t get past the ewwww! factor. Instead I meticulously used a butter knife to push each cricket into a spoon and carefully placed the body onto the cookie. With crickets in place, the dough balls went into the oven to bake.


I spy, with my little eye, a leg!

The chirp of the timer told me the cookies were done. I have to admit, the crickets blended in nicely with the chocolate chips, almost as if they still used their camouflage to avoid predators. However, the legs that were not separated from the body during the brown bag step gave many away. Would the kids at the going away party be put off by legs?


Is this the cricket?

I presented the choco-chirp cookies to the students and received the desired response. Gross! Ewwww! Some were eager to try crickets; others were clearly going to have only the boring chocolate chip cookie we brought along for the less adventurous. Most of the brave kiddos couldn’t taste a difference between the two cookies.

There are a few things I am certain of from this choco-chirp cookie experience:

  • the students will remember Little Lily visiting their classroom and the water conservation message she shared,
  • they will remember the day they ate a cricket,
  • and I will not be snacking on crickets in the near future.

Who knew crickets could taste this good?

Interested in the latest in cricket cuisine? Some think they are the next big thing!

Barrels Aren’t Just for Monkeys!

This week’s blog post was written by Cecile Riker, WCO Intern


The classic barrel of monkeys.

Barrels have many uses in today’s day and age.  Whether it’s storing whiskey for years as it ages to tasting perfection, holding feed for your farm animals, or harboring a handful of plastic monkeys, here at the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office, we believe the most significant use of this seemingly boring container is to collect Earth’s most precious resource; water. Rainwater, more specifically.

People have been collecting rainwater since ancient times (850 BC), according to the Rainwater Harvesting Guide. Humans have always needed water, and although we all may not care where it comes from or how we get it, we know that it is vital to our survival. Rainwater collection systems have varied in size and magnitude throughout history- ranging from underground cisterns carved out of solid rock, to aqueducts, to a plastic barrel in your own backyard. Both small households and entire communities can benefit from this type of collection.

On the local scale, installing a rain barrel at your home can save money as well as promote water conservation by reducing the need for tap water and decreasing the draw from a city’s water supply. “Soft” rainwater is also healthier for your plants than tap water – the process of softening “hard” tap water may contribute to salt accumulation in soil. Although the timing, amount and length of a rain are relatively unpredictable, barrels hold up to 80 gallons of rainwater and can be attached to a hose for easy access.


Your average household rain barrel.

Now- I know what you’re thinking. “That’s a pretty ugly barrel- I wouldn’t want to put that in my yard! It’s an eyesore!” Lucky for you, the ACC Water Conservation Office puts on an event each year called Roll Out the Barrels. In its fourth year, this event invites local artists to make beautiful, functional works of art out of rain barrels that are silently auctioned off at the Lyndon House Arts Center. Whether you prefer a calming nature scene or a PBR can replica, there is a barrel for you to bid on!


There are 20 different barrels, each with a unique flair. One belongs in your yard!

Roll Out the Barrels 2014 is this Friday night, May 16th, from 5:30 to 7:30PM. If you would like to preview the barrels, they are currently on display at the Lyndon House (or you can check Lily Anne Phibian’s Facebook page for pictures!). All proceeds will go to the ACC Green School Program, which supports environmental education efforts in Athens-Clarke County. Bring your check book, a blanket, and some friends and find the newest artistic addition to your backyard. We look forward to seeing you on Friday evening!

Click here to visit the Roll Out the Barrels Website for more details, a list of artists, and pictures from past years.

How do I say Goodbye…

~ Jackie Sherry, Water Conservation Graduate Assistant

This is by far the hardest blog I’ve ever had to write. How am I to summarize my two plus years working at the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office into a single blog post??? This is the most challenging task Marilyn has asked of me. I can tell you these two years have flown by. It seemed like just yesterday when I shadowed Laurie presenting the enviroscape activity at the East Athens Community Center for a group of summer camp kids. Little did I know, a few weeks later I would present that same activity to another group of summer camp kids and begin my journey of educating Athenians on water conservation.


Whenever someone asks me what I like best about my job, I always say the spontaneity of it. The Water Conservation Office constantly has school field trips, outreach activities, workshops, or community events scheduled. These take a lot of time and preparation to be successful. I walk into the office and was asked to do a variety of things including:

1. Build rain barrels for artists to paint for our Roll Out the Barrels event.
2. Play toilet toss trivia with middle school students for science nights.
3. Clean our green tree frog, Phileap’s, cage in preparation to educate students on keeping our waterways clean.
4. Make cricket cookies using real crickets for Save the Frogs Day.
5. Create resources for teacher’s to use in their classrooms (i.e. Water Drop Boxes).
6. Host Project WET Workshops to educate teachers on incorporating water related activities into their lesson plans.
7. Take students and adults for tours around the Drinking Water Treatment Plant and Water Reclamation Facilities.
8. Attend community events like AthFest, Green Life Expo, and River’s Alive…just to name a few.
9. Use social media to spread the word to Athenians about water conservation facts, trivia, and events.
10. Advertise, interview, hire, and oversee multiple interns.

When I accepted this graduate assistant-ship two years ago, I never thought I would have the opportunity to do all the things mentioned above, but I am so glad I did. These experiences have given me knowledge and confidence to continue a path in environmental education. This assistant-ship has allowed me to network and meet many wonderful water educators around Georgia.

Most importantly, I leave this assistant-ship with two amazing mentors and friends, Marilyn and Laurie. They inspired me to be confident in following my dreams and never giving up. They have guided me and given me incomparable advice for my future. I looked forward to going to work every day and that is all because of Marilyn and Laurie. They made work fun and enjoyable by giving me the freedom and flexibility to work on projects and events that suited my interests. They were always supportive of my thoughts and ideas (except for getting a pet snake for the office). I will truly miss working for these two incredible ladies, but I know the Water Conservation Office is in good hands with them. This office has amazed me with all of its awards and accomplishments and I know there will be plenty more to come. I am honored to have been part of such an incredible office with an even more amazing staff for the past two years!


Water Warrior Women (35)

Thank you so much for all the memories!

44 Years of cleaning it up, now lets conserve it!

~Jackie Sherry, Water Conservation Graduate Assistant



Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, but you might ask how did it all begin? Well in 1969 Wisconsin U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson, wanted to create a massive environmental movement with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm that he witnessed from the student anti-war movements.  He hoped to channel student’s energy and enthusiasm toward air and water pollution concerns, forcing environmental protection on to the national agenda.  As a result of his and others’ efforts,  20 million Americans took to streets, parks, schools, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment on April 22nd 1970.  The first Earth Day brought together a wide range of people all with the similar interest of protecting our earth.  The first Earth Day eventually led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

We still celebrate Earth Day 44 years later.  The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts have improved our air and water quality immensely.  However, thinking about the future, my biggest concern is not of quality, but quantity…water quantity that is.  Let’s take a look at our Earth and figure out exactly how much water is on it.

The Earth is 71% water and 29% land.  That seems like a lot of water on Earth, right?  Then why I am so concerned with water quantity?


Of all the water on Earth roughly 3% is fresh water, the remaining 97% is salt water.  We usually do not use salt water for drinking.  It takes a lot of time, money, and resources to turn salt water into drinking water.  Instead we use fresh water for drinking.  However, of all the fresh water on Earth 68% is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.  We can not access this frozen fresh water for drinking.  Groundwater comprises 30% of freshwater and similar to frozen water, groundwater is very difficult to access for drinking.  Only a little more than 1% of the freshwater on Earth is surface water and other fresh water that we can use for drinking.




Every five years, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) compiles data to understand how much water is used by different water users in the United States.  This information assists water managers in planning for present and future water needs by understanding how water resources are used throughout the nation.  In 2005, the results from the research show that 49% of water use was for thermoelectric power, 31% for irrigation, 11% for public supply, 4% for industry, 2% for aquaculture, and 1% for domestic, livestock, and mining.  (The USGS is in the process of updating this data.  It will  be interesting to see how water use has changed over the last decade.)

There are  a lot of water users that must share the limited freshwater we have on Earth.  These water users must work together to conserve water.  That means me and you must CONSERVE!  Check out 100 ways to conserve water and 100 ways to conserve energy, so that you can do your part to conserve water and energy in your daily lives!

Conserve Water Today so Water Can Serve You Tomorrow!