Poop Rocks!

Poop rocks! Ok, maybe not so much.  But toilets?  They definitely rock.  For this reason, we recognize November 19 as World Toilet Day.  Yes, I am serious.

Toilets are life savers.  The Center for Disease Control names the control of infectious diseases as one of the top ten achievements in the 20th century.  Improved sanitation and toilets were vital to the progress in disease prevention.  Without the public health improvements brought about by proper sewage disposal, cholera and dysentery may be a pandemic today.  Unfortunately, 1 in 3 people in the world does not have access to a nearby toilet. In these areas, cholera and dysentery are still a threat.  Diarrhea, something most with toilets view as an inconvenience, is a leading cause of death in children under age five.  We need more potties.

Squat for a moment and imagine if you didn’t have a toilet.  Where and how would you answer the call of nature?  Approximately 892 million people face this choice and have to defecate in the open.  Think about what this would mean in your community:  the smell, the disease, the flies, the need to watch where you step…

To raise awareness of World Toilet Day, “Poop Rocks” will be dropped around Athens, GA on the two Fridays prior to November 19.  Be on the lookout for these artful poops (set your art standards low). In places without the improved sanitation facilities Athens has, you’d find actual poop. Clues for poop rock locations will be shared November 10 & 17 on Instagram @LilyAnnePhibian.   Be the first to locate the poop and claim it on Instagram.  Either keep the poop rock as a reminder of how special your toilet is or you can re-hide it with a clue for someone else to find.  Be sure to include #fafath, for Free Art Friday Athens, if posting about your find or searching on Instagram.


Get a sneak peek of some fresh poop rocks, an Athens exclusive, dropping 11/17/2017:

Learn more about World Toilet Day:



See the journey of poo in Athens:  http://athensclarkecounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/459


Monday Morning

Image result for alarm clock

Article written by: Devon Boullion          

Your alarm goes off. You hit the snooze button.  It’s Monday.  The dreaded alarm sounds again,  producing the most grating sound known to mankind as your once favorite song launches into the familiar chorus. You roll over just in time to silence Taylor Swift before she can truly explain what you made her do and prepare for your weekly ritual.

A feeling of solidarity with all nine-to-five workers drives you forward as you amble towards the shower. As per usual, you turn the knob hoping the warm shower will help you move from this limbo state between weekend relaxation and binge-watching towards a full week of deadlines and early mornings. In your zombie-like state, it takes you a moment to realize that the water did not immediately switch on. Instead, the tap stalls for a moment. After a few seconds delay, a black, sludgy substance seeps out of the shower holes. In shock and horror, you assume you’re still dreaming. You then attempt to levitate, just to check. Despite your noble efforts, the attempt failed. This is not a dream.

You race to your desk to check Facebook and see if anyone else is having this problem.  They are. Just as you frantically Google the name of your local public utilities’ website, you feel the beginnings of a pounding headache. It is then that you grasp the true horror of the situation. No water means no coffee.

While the anecdote above is meant to make you think about your own morning ritual and use of water, your morning routine is only the tip of your water-usage iceberg. America runs on water. Our restaurants, hospitals, industries, farms and even some of our power sources rely on a clean water supply every day.

According to the EPA, in 2010 public supply (via utility departments) accounted for 12% of all freshwater withdrawals (1).  An economic study conducted by the Value of Water Campaign revealed that without access to water for just one day, approximately $43.5 billion worth of economic activity would be put at risk (2). In spite of this, many areas have done little to no work to improve their water infrastructure, which was originally laid out by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Depression-era program (established in 1933), the Tennessee Valley Authority.

           Imagine a Day Without Water video

October 12 is Imagine a Day Without Water.  Spearheaded by The Value of Water Coalition, the event encourages us to take a moment and reflect on what we can do to help maintain our safe water supply.  In a culture based on innovation and building, we often forget the virtue of maintenance. We rush around, trying to improve aspects of our personal or work lives and often forget that we need to sit down and take care of what is most important to us. Without a solid base, no building can stay standing. Without hard work, no relationship stays together.  Without water infrastructure, American business cannot grow or even continue. 

We invite you to make your voice heard and participate in Imagine a Day Without Water. Working together amplifies our voices and allows us to bring public and political attention to the importance of our water supply and infrastructure.

Here are some potential ways that you can ensure maintenance of your health, your communities’ health, and the health of American businesses:

  • Get involved in the political process.
    • Write to your local mayor, public utilities department, elected representative, or governor about the importance of private and public investment in water infrastructure.
  • Learn more about water supply and infrastructure.
    • Visit The Value of Water website and learn more about the role of water in our lives, our economy, our environment, and our community.  Knowledge is the most powerful tool of all.
  • Learn to be “water smart” in your day-to-day activities.
    • Learn 5 do’s and don’ts of how to be a Sewer Hero!  We can all do our part to maintain our sewer infrastructure.
  • Tell your friends why water matters to you!
    • Take a selfie of what you would miss most on a day without water and use #valuewater!

The Monday morning scenario seems a little outlandish, but “in 2015 nearly 77 million Americans lived in an area where their water infrastructure violated at least one safety regulation (3).”  It might not be black sludge that comes out of the shower, but this makes the situation even scarier. Most contaminants of concern in our water, like lead or arsenic, are not easily visible or reported quickly. Let’s work together and remind our politicians, colleagues, friends and ourselves that we need to #valuewater today and every day!



  1. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/how-we-use-water
  2. http://thevalueofwater.org/sites/default/files/Fact%20Sheet_Economic%20Impact%20of%20Investing%20in%20Water%20Infrastructure%20FINAL.pdf
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/us/tapwater-drinking-water-study.html


Sewer Heroes Take Over the Athens Water Festival!

We all had the dream at some point in our lives.  Maybe you wanted to grow up and be Wonder Woman with a magical golden lasso.  Or you may have imagined yourself with the ability to talk to sea life, just like Aquaman.  Perhaps you and your sibling spent hours hoping to activate your Wonder Twin powers and change form.  How did this work out for you?

If your Superhero dreams were foiled, never fear.  There is still hope for us all.  With a remarkable dedication to fighting grime, a strong desire to protect the public, and a little H2knOwledge, you can transform into a Superhero.  Well, maybe not a Superhero from the comics, but definitely a real-life Sewer Hero! 

Don’t believe me?  Look to the recent Athens Water Festival for the hard evidence.  Hundreds of Athenians came out to the annual event and tapped into their hidden potential to earn official, certifiable Sewer Hero status.

With great flushing power comes great responsibility.  Let it flow.  Be a Sewer Hero.

Make plans to attend next year’s Athens Water Festival, September 8, 2018.


Athens Water Festival: Be a Sewer Hero!

Today’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, a practicing Sewer Hero and Water Conservation Program Specialist

Faster than a flushing toilet.  More powerful than a “flushable” wipe.  Able to toss trash into the most decorative bathroom trash can.  It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  It’s a… Sewer Hero!

Yes, a Sewer Hero, an everyday earthling who understands that with great flushing power comes great responsibility.  And who, disguised as an average John/Jane Doe, quietly making their way to the restroom, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and a clear sewer way.

If you have not reached Sewer Hero status, never fear.  The Athens Water Festival offers FREE Sewer Hero Training and you are invited!

  • When:  Saturday, September 9, 2017
  • Time:  10:30AM – 2:00PM
  • Where:  Sandy Creek Park, 400 Bob Holman Road, Athens, GA   30607
  • Cost:  $2 park entry; festival activities are FREE!
  • What:  A family-friendly event all about water; bring a swimsuit
  • More info:  Visit AthensWaterFestival.com

What can you expect to accomplish at this extraordinary family-friendly event?  Here is a small sampling:

  • Use and improve your Sewer Hero agility skills as you dodge the water drops sprayed from water trucks

  • Meet mysterious creatures from the sea and practice using telepathy to communicate with them

The Grease Menace Stinks!


Wicked Wipes Clog Pipes!







  • Learn techniques to defeat the Grease Menace and Wicked Wipes Monster.


  • Develop your Sewer Hero skills, such as maneuvering underwater robots, stopping sneaky straws from getting into stormwater, making water safe to drink, and more from over 20 different organizations

The Athens Water Festival is one of the top annual family events in Athens.  Meteorologists predict good, mild weather.  UGA conveniently scheduled an away, nighttime football game so as not to conflict with the festival. There is truly no reason to not attend the 2017 Athens Water Festival.  Bring your bravery, courage, and strength to the festival and show us what a true Sewer Hero looks like.


Color Me Bluetfiul!

Crayola, the indisputable King of Crayons, is letting you borrow their crown for a day.

Imagine the possibilities of bluetiful

Proving a Dandelion can be eradicated, Crayola recently retired the yellow-hued crayon and plans to replace it with a shade of blue. You are knighted with the honor of selecting the name for the new hue of blue.

Unknown to man until 2009, YlnMn is a vibrant blue pigment discovered by brilliant chemist Mas Subranmaian and his team at Oregon State University. With a name like YlnMn, it is clear chemist are not the most creative and colorful when it comes to naming discoveries. Thankfully, Crayola has come to the rescue.

The two groups are combining their strengths. The chemists provide the pigment for a new crayon; Crayola brings their marketing skills to the drawing board.

Now, this is where you come in. Following a call for suggestions, Crayola has revealed the top five names and asks you to choose. Here are the contenders:

• Blue Moon Bliss
• Bluetiful
• Dreams Come Blue
• Reach for the Stars
• Star Spangled Blue

I am lobbying heavily for “Bluetiful.”  What color do we tend to associate with water? Blue. What is a word often associated with water? Beautiful. The name “Bluetiful,” a longtime and well-used adjective in the Water Conservation Office, is a perfect blending of beautiful and water.

Need convincing bluetiful is the perfect word choice with many applications?

• Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and you are bluetiful.
• Visit an Athens’ Certified Blue location and you support a bluetiful business.
• Relax and gaze at the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico for a bluetiful view.
• Color and hang a water drawing by your child on the refrigerator using Crayola’s new color and you have a bluetiful work of art.

It is the perfect word and Crayola is just the first step for bluetiful. The word has the potential to make a huge splash in the lexicon. From here, it will gain the attention it deserves, moving onto the list of words added to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary. Imagine:

Bluetiful adj., 1. having a fluid beauty often associated with a shade of blue and/or water. 2. used to describe a person who uses water wisely. noun, 1. A vibrant blue pigment once referred to as YlnMn.

Dive in and vote online every day through August 31 on Crayola’s website.  Everyone who votes is entered for a chance to win one of six trips to Crayola Experience in Orlando, FL.  I wonder if the experience is anything like when Mr. Rogers visited a crayon factory.  The name of the crayon and the winners of the trip will be announced in early September 2017.

Today’s blog was written by Laurie Loftin, program specialist with the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office and a fan of the color bluetiful


Be a Sewer Hero: Fight Evil Villains

Today’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, who is a not-so-secret Sewer Hero!

Uncle Ben said it best: “With great flushing power comes great responsibility.” Everyone who dreams of being a Sewer Hero is wise to remember this expression.

What is a Sewer Hero? These dedicated individuals fight grime, protect the public, and battle super villains.  Let me introduce you to two of the Sewer Hero’s biggest foes:

The Sewer Hero has many enemies.  Let me introduce you to two of the Sewer Hero’s biggest foes:

The Wicked Wipes Monster

This monster seems harmless. Clever marketing encourages you to welcome it into your home. You find it in a decorative, neat package perfect for brightening the back of the

Wicked Wipes Clog Pipes!

toilet. The soft, fresh scent masks any sense of doo-m that may soon flow. Do not let its quilted softness fool you. Once you flush the Wicked Wipe Monster down a toilet, it has a way of rearing its ugly head right back out of your toilet.  Made from a durable material,  “flushable” wipes do not easily disintegrate in water. Wicked Wipes use their strength to clog pipes. The damage is evident when raw sewage is overflowing in your home, oozing from a manhole cover, or the wipes hinder our equipment at the water reclamation facility.

Be a Sewer Hero!

  • If you use wipes, be it flushable, baby, cleaning, or make-up remover wipes, put these in the trash, not the toilet.
  • Instead of using wipes, keep a small spray bottle of water by the toilet. When the time comes, fold your toilet paper into a neat square and spritz it with the water bottle. You have made a homemade wipe that cleans and flushes easily.

The Grease Menace

Yuuuummm, bacon. Who doesn’t love the meat candy? The only problem with bacon is the grease it leaves behind. It is a menace. It will try to deceive you. At a hot

The Grease Menace Stinks!

temperature, the grease looks like a liquid one can easily pour down the drain. Don’t fall into its greasy trap. Once it goes down the drain, this shape shifter attaches itself to the sides of the pipe. As more fats from items such as peanut butter, sour cream, and ranch dressing flow past, they join forces to form a league of Grease Menaces, aka FOG (Fats, Oils, & Greases). The result is a nasty FOG Clog. Nothing can get past the putrid plug it creates. When you see the items you flushed down your drain or toilet start to reappear in your home, you will know the mark of the Grease Menace.

Be a Sewer Hero!

  • NEVER pour used cooking fats, oils, or grease down the drain. Let these cool and put them in the trash.
  • Wipe out empty containers of high-fat foods. Wipe off plates covered in dressings. Do you have a dog? Let Fido do some pre-washing of your dishes.
  • Recycle used cooking oils. In Athens, GA, our Recycling Center, Landfill, and the North and Middle Oconee Water Reclamation Facilities have oil drop-off containers. The used oils are recycled and turned into biodiesels.  Drop them off!

I hope you can see how easy it is to be a Sewer Hero.  You don’t have to be bitten by a radioactive spider. There is no need to practice landing after a jump from a tall building.  No special costume is required.   The only gadget needed is a trash can to put the wipes and used cooking FOG into.

I ask you to accept this responsibility.  In turn, you keep your headquarters clean and our city flowing.  The power to be a Sewer Hero is within everyone.  Once you choose to do so, you will discover it is flushing awesome!

Reduce, Reuse, Re-water-cycle

Today’s blog is by Laurie Loftin, program specialist in ACC Water Conservation Office

Reduce, reuse, recycle. This delightful alliteration reminds us of alternative ways to lighten the load in our landfills. But can this jingle apply anywhere else? Can we broaden the breadth of the 3 R’s to embrace our waters? Perhaps a “reduce, reuse, re-water-cycle” could become an updated slogan. Let’s take a look at how to adapt these concepts to care for a vital resource.

Reduce: The first “R” is easy to understand and accomplish. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, find and repair leaks, or trim your meat consumption and you easily reduce your water footprint.  When we are in the habit of using less water, we are better prepared to handle the inevitable dip in our water supply. Reducing demand on reservoirs and other sources allows us to save this liquid gold for the non-rainy days of drought.

Reuse: Pollution, proximity, and drought are a few of the variables affecting our ability to easily access water. As our world population grows, our water resources remain the same. But is it possible there is another source of water we are overlooking?

There is. Sort of.  What we currently refer to as wastewater has the potential to be reused, essentially allowing us to find a “hidden” reservoir.  Reusing wastewater is not a new idea. In fact, March 22 marks World Water Day, an annual event coordinated by UN-Water. The date celebrates water and highlights a specific issue related to tackling the world’s growing water crisis. For 2017 the theme is “Why Waste Water?,” with a focus on the many applications for wastewater reuse.

According to UN-Water, “globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.”¹  If this water is treated and safely managed, it could offer an affordable supply of water, particularly in developing countries with limited access to water. Improved sanitation means better health, which leads to increased productivity and a positive economic impact that far outweighs the initial cost of wastewater treatment.

The idea is not a pipe dream.  Already cities across America are discovering ways to reuse water. Purple pipes allow access to treated water approved for the irrigation of golf courses and agriculture. The Waterhub at Emory University in Atlanta, GA reuses water to supply nearly 40% of the school’s non-potable needs. Breweries in CA and WA use treated wastewater to brew craft beers. Municipalities are beginning to investigate and plan for reservoirs that receive piped effluent. The many possibilities for reuse water in agriculture, energy production, and reservoir replenishment are intriguing and worth exploring.

Re-water-cycle: Reuse and recycle appear to be similar, but if we connect the terms to water, there is a clear distinction. Reuse involves imagining creative ways to reuse our wastewater.

Recycled water is the never-ending cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.  We can also think of water as being recycled when added to soft drinks, consumed in our bodies, and absorbed into our food crops.  The recycling of water is a good and necessary phenomenon.  However, water recycling is a double-edged sword.  During this revolution water can leave one community and move to another.  When water vapor blows from one state to another or transported away in a plastic soda bottle or cucumber,  the result is a water loss in one area and a water gain found in another.

A second way H2O recycles is during the “urban water cycle“.  Water is removed from a point of supply and taken to a drinking water treatment plant to be transformed to drinking water quality. The clean liquid flows through pipes to people’s homes and businesses. The water is used and flushed into sewer pipes to make its way to a water reclamation facility. The wastewater is treated and returned to the source, which flows to the next community to be pulled and turned into drinking water.  This happens again and again.

As presented, the 3 Rs are easily applicable to water.  The next question is whether or not others will agree.

When I speak of water reuse or recycling, listeners often wrinkle their noses in a display of disgust.  Understandably, the word “wastewater” tends to have negative preconceptions associated with it.  But if you are familiar with the treatment operations at water reclamation facilities, you know filtration equipment removes trash, solids, and inorganic compounds from the influent.  Microorganisms handle the removal of phosphorus, nitrates, and other undesirable elements.  Ultraviolet rays provide an additional layer of disinfection.  The remaining end product is typically cleaner than the source water it is added back to.  Any of the ickiness factor one links with the idea of wastewater reuse washes away during treatment.

If you go deeper, we can imagine the places our water may have been before it is in our drinking glass.  The water molecule you shower with may have once been inside a rabbit.  Your coffee may contain water that percolated down through someone’s septic drainfield.  Water has been recycled and reused from the dawn of time.  When it is properly treated, we have very little fear of becoming ill as a result of reusing these well-traveled molecules.

The point is, we already practice the 3 Rs in relation to water without thinking about it.  We must continue to reduce our demands on the water supply.  It is time for us to investigate innovative applications for wastewater reuse and put the ideas into action.  We need to ensure that wastewater is properly treated worldwide so only the cleanest water is available for recycling.  All of this can done.  We simply need to recognize that there is no such thing as wastewater, but rather only wasted water.


1 On average, high-income countries treat about 70% of the wastewater they generate, while that ratio drops to 38% in upper-middle-income countries and to 28% in lower-middle-income countries. In low-income countries, only 8% of industrial and municipal wastewater undergoes treatment of any kind (Sato et. al, 2013).