You Can Cut Their Heads Off And They’ll Still Grow

IMG_20160816_103948989_HDRPropagating succulent plants is an exciting and inexpensive way to grow your flora collection! Do you have any succulents around the house that need pruning? Do you want to feed your succulent obsession but just don’t have the budget for purchasing more plants? Fear not! You can cut the heads off of your existing succulent plants to produce more!

The succulent propagation process is easy and requires little water which makes a water conservation enthusiast like me very happy 🙂 Some plant species are easier to propagate than others, but I’m going to spell out a few tricks that I’ve learned to help you in your experimental attempts. I am still new to the world of succulent plants, but I’ve been extremely satisfied with my level of success in propagation.

Where is a good place to start?

One way to propagate a succulent is to cut a branching stem off from a “mother plant.”


Notice there are two separate stems sprouting from the same plant pictured on the left. I’ll continue to grow the main stem that looks nicer and cut off the left stem to propagate from. Each healthy leaf from this succulent plant can serve as a new “mother plant” if nurtured carefully. The first thing to do when preparing your plant for propagation is to carefully remove a section that you are ready to part with. Once removed, you can start to pluck each leaf from the stem…



Pay special attention to how you pluck the leaves from your clipped stem. If you snap a leaf in half (see below), it will not produce successful offspring. An easy way to ensure smooth leaf removal is to pinch the leaf with your forefinger and thumb then twist away from the stem. Be gentle with the leaves as you twist to prevent any breakage. The photo below illustrates the two potential outcomes when plucking from your succulent stem. 1) A successful leaf removal with no signs of damage and 2) An unsuccessful removal that results in a broken leaf. If you break a leaf, toss it into your compost pile. You only want to keep your successful attempts. IMG_20160529_101548213

Here is a photo collage of leaf removal:

Now let’s go back to your mother plant… After clipping one of its stems, allow the wound on the mother plant to heal over– similar to a scab. Make sure to check that the stem has healed before introducing water to it; otherwise, the succulent may become too saturated and might rot. The same goes for each leaf that you remove from your clipped stem; allow the tip of each leaf to scab over before providing them with water. The scabbing process may take a few days; the bigger the surface of the cut, the longer it will take to heal. Store all of your leaves in a container in an area with indirect sunlight while giving them time to scab over. I used a cupcake carrier tray to contain my leaves in, which worked great for toting them out of the way when I needed to. Be sure not to give too much direct sun during this stage since you won’t be hydrating the leaves while their tips heal. I made the mistake of burning my first batch! Here is a successful trial:


After your plucked leaves begin to form a protective layer over their wounds, place them in some soil so that the end which attached to the stem touches the soil. You can collect leaves from a variety of succulents to create a mandala design!


Put your leaves in a sunlit windowsill and spritz the soil with water every few days. Avoid spraying water directly on the leaves, as they can shrivel if too saturated. There is no need to water the leaves everyday… If your soil is moist, then do not water again. You want to apply water to the soil only when the soil feels dry to the touch. However, don’t leave your soil to get bone dry!

Maintaining your leaves is incredibly easy… even if you are forgetful! You are more likely to hurt the leaves by over watering them rather than under watering them. I accidentally left my leaves unwatered for over 3 weeks…they still began to sprout roots and new leaves once I added water.

After a few weeks or months of tender love and care, your plucked leaves will begin to grow roots and little leaves. Allow this process to continue and leave the “mother leaf” until it shrivels. Once it shrivels, you can remove it and transplant your new succulent baby into its own pot! Here’s a picture of baby succulents growing from an old stem that I repotted. The new leaves grew from areas where old leaves were plucked from. How exciting!

Let’s revisit your mother plant again… Does it have dead leaves at its base? If so, give the succulent a manicure by removing the expired leaves. Once you clear out the dried leaves, your succulent will look brand new in its pot! I find this to be so therapeutic 🙂

Becoming a succulent goddess is fun! You can propagate like crazy and produce hundreds of baby plants all from one original mother succulent. Not only will your house and office be adorned with a succulent family, but you’ll also have a water conservation stamp of approval for gardening with water-wise methods. Congrats!


This blog was written by Emily Bilcik, a self-acclaimed succulent goddess and self-taught gardener.


The Green Future of Cities

When you think of the word “city,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of towering skyscrapers, breathtaking city lights, the amazing nightlife, or the exhilarating sense of opportunity. But what about overcrowded streets, piles of trash, miles of dull, grey concrete, and bumper-to-bumper traffic with honking cars and the stench of burning fuel? It’s the sad reality of cities, though exciting and awe-inspiring. Humans have a substantial effect on the environment when we congregate at such large numbers, but not every city has to be like that.

Imagine a future where cities are crisp, clean environments with no trash in sight. Imagine fresh vegetables and fruits growing right outside your house, accentuated by lush green trees and bushes lining the streets. Imagine not having to pay an electricity bill and filling up your car at no cost because of an abundance of natural energy. Imagine a nearby school that raises a generation of children to be knowledgeable and practiced in sustainability. Imagine conserving water and energy, producing less harmful emissions, and keeping the environment a cleaner place, all without losing any of the luxuries we’ve become accustomed to.

Well…this isn’t just a future utopia in our minds, it actually exists! In Dubai, UAE, the Sustainable City stands proud on 46 hectares of land with a total of 2,700 happy residents. The city is completely sustainable and uses recycling techniques and solar panels to reduce their footprint on Mother Earth. Though still small, the city plans to continue building to expand their reach and capacity. This city is the first important step towards large sustainable cities. Check out the video below to learn more about this amazing place:


According to the United Nations, 60% of people globally are estimated to live in urban areas by 2030, making cities a crucial area to focus on for conservation. The Sustainable City does not shy away from this challenge. It utilizes greywater, which is used water that comes from households, not including fecal-contaminated toilet water. Greywater is the water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, dishwashers, and more. This water has very few germs in it and can be easily treated and used for purposes other than drinking water. Recycling greywater prevents communities from having to use clean, drinkable water for activities where it’s not necessary, such as toilet flushing, landscape/crop irrigation, and washing laundry. In the Sustainable City, greywater is treated on-site to prevent the need for extensive pipe infrastructure to send it miles away to another treatment plant. Community members use greywater for irrigation purposes and cooling bio-dome greenhouses where crops are grown.

Recycling water helps lessen the burden on our already decreasing global water resource. The United Nations warns that 2.7 billion people will face the problem of water shortage by 2025, which means almost one-half to one-third of the total population of the world will be affected by this problem. With only 1% of fresh water available for use on the planet, we need to be smart to ensure everyone can have access to clean, drinkable water for generations to come. Reusing water that would otherwise go unused can help prevent this looming issue.

In addition to water-conscious practices, the Sustainable City also produces their own electricity with solar panels. Electricity may seem unrelated to water, but electrical generation actually uses a substantial amount of water for cooling and turning turbines. Solar energy cuts out water use by relying on energy from the sun. And here’s the best part: residents don’t pay a single cent for it! Never paying an electricity bill sounds pretty great, right? This free electricity extends to the electric cars that the Sustainable City citizens use in place of traditional gas powered vehicles. You’d never have to pay for fuel again if you lived in the city, since the electricity needed to charge the cars is free. Sounds like a great deal, and you’re conserving water in the process too. What a double-positive!


So, after absorbing this information, you’re probably in-between wanting to move to the Sustainable City or wanting to build a similar city in your own hometown. Sustainable, clean cities CAN exist, and places all around the world are making strides towards this, from Australia to right here in the United States. For now, we can admire this innovative city and commit to conserving water and energy both as a whole and individually in our own homes.


Written by Sarah-Lynne Griffin, Water Conservation Intern at Public Utilities 

Find Romance in an Unlikely Place and Discover Love Does Not Stink

Today’s blog is written by Laurie Loftin, who does not celebrate Valentine’s Day the way Hallmark tells her to

Valentine’s Day:  a special date set aside for you and your loved one to acknowledge your undying love for one another with roses, chocolate, and candlelit dinners…  Ugh.  I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.  Personally, the thought of roses,  chocolate, and candlelit dinners on February 14 makes me yawn.  Throw in a sappy Hallmark Valentine’s Day card and a teddy bear and you will get me right to bed.  Sleeping.

We all can do better than this for our beloved.  Instead of trotting back to the trough to pull out another tired and stale notion of what is romantic, set in motion a Valentine’s Day rendezvous sure to create a special, unique, and lasting memory.  As always, the Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department is here to help.  Keep your passion from pooping out and bring the object of your desires on a fascinating tour of the North Oconee Water Reclamation Facility.

You may be surprised by this suggestion, but trust me.  Nothing says “I love you” like taking your Number 1 to see the process of purifying your flushed waters of Numbers 1 & 2.  Think of the tour as a metaphor.  Similar to wastewater, relationships often come with a little bit of crap.  But with a little effort, dedication, and devotion, you can navigate the waters and eliminate the stinky parts of love, creating a refreshed and long-lasting pool of passion from which to draw.

What can you expect on the tour?  Romance abounds with carefully crafted stops offering the perfect backdrop for photos and stolen kisses.  Feel the adrenaline rush through your veins as the wastewater flows through the aeration basin.  Climb to new heights as you scale the clarifying basin.  Let the bonding between microorganisms and phosphorous put you and your flame in the mood to strengthen the strange and extraordinary connection you share.  Tickle the senses of sight, sound, taste, and smell with our alternative outing.

And you do not have to stop with the tour.  Go all the way.  Why not “poo-pose” while you are here?  Give us a heads up and we can help you find the perfect scent o’ mental spot to pop the question.  With some time to prepare, we can be sure to have plenty of toilet paper on hand for your darling to wipe away the tears of joy.  If our proposal sounds like something you would like to give a swirl, let us know.

So, how do you sign up and keep this Valentine’s Day from going down the drain?  Check your calendar.  The tour is scheduled for Wednesday, February 14, 2018, from 12:00 – 1:30.  Yes, this is the lunch hour.  Light refreshments will be on hand, because who doesn’t want to eat while on this tour.  Visit to register.  We keep the tour size intimate, so space is limited.

You and your Valentine will share a new understanding and appreciation for the water reclamation process, ready to tell others that love – and water reclamation – does not stink.

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:

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!





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

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.