Ripple Effect Film Projects Presents

This week’s blog is updated by Laurie Loftin, original from Cecile Riker

What do movies, popcorn, a blue carpet, the “drop”-parazzi, sparkles, and water conservation have in common? They are all part of the successful Annual Ripple Effect Film Project!  This year’s event takes place on May 16 at Cine in downtown Athens.

Filmmakers of all ages were invited to submit films about water conservation and stewardship.  The results are outstanding!  Judges were extremely impressed with the creations from the Grades K-5 division.  The spotlight shines on these budding filmmakers during the matinée hour, with a reception to begin at 2:00 and a showing at 3:00.

Another reception and viewing takes place that evening for the adult, middle & high school categories beginning at 6:00. A total of 19 original short films made it to the finalist category.  These inspired films are sure to get everyone thinking about our water resources long after the curtain falls.


The fabulous blue carpet leading into the Lab at Cine where the reception was held.

Dress in your Oscar best and visit with friends and family at this fun-filled event.  Strut down the red and blue carpets, smile for the cameras, and pile on the toppings at the popcorn bar. These photos are a sampling of Ripple Effects gone by.


Popcorn heaven!


Some filmmakers stop and pose for the paparazzi.


Someone put these girls on a poster!

Movie submissions are put into several categories including Grades 1-5, Middle/High School, and Adult/UGA. Awards are given for Best Overall Films, Films with the Best Conservation Message, Audience Choice Awards, and the new Best in Fest Award.  To add to the excitement for 2015, CASH PRIZES are to be awarded to winning films.

Last year nine films took home a coveted glass water drop, but all of the finalists did a fantastic job of informing about and celebrating water conservation. You may click on the following 2014 winning film titles to view them on YouTube.

Grades 1-5


“It’s Not Just a Dream” filmmakers and some of their teachers with their award for Best Overall Film


“The Wildcat Aqua Spies” filmmakers with their award for Best Conservation Message


Producers of “A Drop of Water: Una G’ota de Agua” on stage accepting their Audience Choice Award from Marilyn Hall, ACC Water Conservation Coordinatior

Middle/High School

  • Best Overall: Agent Conserving Water and the Case of the Silent Leak produced by Colin Frick and Melanie Frick (Hilsman Middle School)
  • Best Production Quality: Water produced by Tyler Ortel (Oconee County High School)
  • Audience Choice Award: Ripple Effect 2034 produced by Annabelle Wiedower, Eleanor Matthews, Krista Reed, Mackenzie Caudill, Madeline Scott, McClain Anderson, Moriya Fernandez, Natalie Peterson, Silvia Clark, and Zoe Hicks (from Girl Scout Troop #12193)

Colin Frick accepting the award for Best Overall Film for “Agent Conserving Water and the Case of the Silent Leak”


Tyler Ortel and a friend


The girls behind “Ripple Effect 2034″



Best Overall Film winners from “Elio’s Big Drip”


Samantha Morton accepting her award for “The Weight of Your Water”


“Waternator” filmmaker Katie Ball and the stars of her film

The Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office would like to extend a HUGE thank-you to everyone who submitted a film! This event would be nothing without the ingenuity and creativity of all the filmmakers, and we hope you all continue to produce films (specifically about water conservation) in years to come.


To watch a playlist of all the 2014 films, visit Lily Anne Phibian’s Youtube channel. Pictures from the event are posted on Lily’s Facebook page!  Look back to these same spots soon to see what 2015 offers to the environmental film category.

Water Professionals, you can’t live without them.

This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, GA 

We all need clean water to survive, and we wouldn’t have clean water without our water professionals.  These men and women work for water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  They clean and deliver drinking water to more than 36,000 homes and businesses, collect and treat wastewater for more than 27,000 customers, protect all of us from floods, and help to keep our waterways clean.

Send an email to to personally thank a water professional!

Athens-Clarke County employs more than 200 water professionals who are dedicated to protecting and managing our water. I hope you will take the time to think about them the next time you enjoy a glass a water, flush the toilet, drive on flood-free roads, or splash in the river.  Without them, we would not have the water we need to drink, fight fires, fuel our economy, or enjoy our quality of life.  The Georgia Legislature recognized their importance when they designated the first Monday in May as Water Professionals Appreciation Day.  Happy Water Professionals Day!

Water professionals have been working in Athens for a long time!

In 1880, a private water company built the first water works in the City of Athens. In the early 1890s, after years of complaints from the local residents, the city ended the private water company’s franchise and constructed a municipal water works. The first municipal water system had a capacity of 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and 16 miles of water lines serving a limited area of the community.  Today, our water system has the capacity to produce 36 MGD, with about 790 miles of water lines delivering high-quality drinking water to about 98% of our population in Athens-Clarke County. Water treatment is far more complex and the technology far more advanced than in the 1890s, but one thing has not changed – the importance of water to us all and the dedication of the individuals who provide it.

What about after the water is used?

We all know how much we depend on water in our everyday lives. Once you send water down the drain, it needs to be cleaned and recycled – this historically has been described as wastewater treatment. Now, because of the large advances in treatment technologies and regulations in the federal Clean Water Act, we reclaim, refresh, and return the water you have used.

The process is called water reclamation, because “reclaiming” means to bring the water back to its usable condition.  The high quality water produced by our water reclamation facilities can be used in irrigation and safely returned to our waterways.  We reuse it within our water reclamation facilities for daily operations, cleaning of facility equipment, and irrigation on the property, which cuts down on costs and conserves water.

There is more to water than tap and sewers.

Stormwater is water that runs off roofs, driveways, and streets into our storm drains. On its way, stormwater picks up chemicals and pollutants that contaminate our waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that stormwater (non-point source pollution) is the number 1 leading cause of pollution in today’s streams, rivers, and lakes.  The water professionals in our Stormwater Management Program are dedicated to protecting Athens-Clarke County water from the moment it runs off our streets to the moment it reaches our streams.  They also protect us from floods by building and maintaining the system of stormdrains throughout our county.

Want to learn more?

The Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office provides workshops, school programs, tours, and other opportunities for residents to learn about water.  The Water Conservation Office also facilitates conservation policy and code development, is responsible for internal water loss reduction, and ensures adequate water supply is available in the future.

Go to to learn more about your water.


Water, Water Everywhere

Today’s blog post was written by Lily Cason, the WCO Graduate Assistant, who can’t help but think about water all the time.

Lately I’ve been pouring over pictures of aardvarks, lilac-breasted rollers, Baobob trees, and Boomslangs in hopes of learning how to identify them.

Aardvark (in real life they look a little different than Arthur)

Aardvark (in real life they look a little different from Arthur)


I’m trying to get to know these creatures because I’m preparing to head out on a study abroad program to Botswana and South Africa next month to study wildlife.

As I get ready for the trip, I can’t help but also think about water and wonder what differences there may be between here and there.  So I did some research.

According to UNICEF, Botswana and South Africa are among a select few countries in Africa on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals for improving access to safe water and sanitation.


Some statistics from the UNICEF/WHO 2014 report on “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation:”

Percentage of the population with access to improved drinking water sources Percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation
Botswana 97% 64% (78% in urban areas, 42% in rural areas)
South Africa 95% 74% (82% in urban areas, 62% in rural areas)
United States 99% 100%


While worldwide access to clean drinking water has greatly improved in the last 20 years, access to improved sanitation remains a major concern.  Open defecation (the practice of defecating outside in an undesignated area) perpetuates a cycle of poverty and disease. There are also concerns about the increased vulnerability to violence faced by women and girls without access to private toilets.

Baobob trees (you can see why they are called "the Upside Down Trees")

Baobob trees (you can see why they are called “the Upside Down Trees”)

As a woman living in the United States, the benefit of access to improved sanitation is something I rarely think about during my daily life. It seems strange to appreciate flushing away my waste but in reality it is a privilege that affords me a safer and healthier life.

However, not everything in Botswana and South Africa is so distant from life in the United States.

I found several articles from 2014 warning of dangerously low water levels in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.  Experts predicted that the water behind the Gaborone dam would last about four more months.

Sound familiar? California’s governor recently ordered mandatory water restrictions for the first time in California history due to near-crisis drought levels. People in the United States are debating how to

The Water Crisis in California

The Water Crisis in California

handle the water crisis in a region of the country that is home to millions of people and is responsible for a large percentage of our food.

Reading about water issues in other countries gave me some perspective on how universal this problem is. It will be interesting to see how officials and residents of California deal with the water crisis. In the Gaborone area, the water supply to its 500,000 residents is cut off for as many as nine hours for three days a week as part of the rationing efforts.  Could something like this be in California’s future?


5 Watery Ways to Celebrate Earth Day


There is no green without blue.

Today’s post is from Laurie Loftin, who plans to celebrate Earth Day in style.

Happy Earth Day! Have you thought about how you plan to celebrate? For an occasion such as this, I believe the best way to “celebrate” is to commit yourself to making one behavioral change you can carry out for the rest of the year. By the next Earth Day, this change is a habit and you will be ready to add another.

To make it easy, here are five suggestions for you to choose from. To keep it simple, all ideas fall into one focused category: Water. Yes, everyone talks about Going Green around Earth Day, but I think we should think about Being Blue. There is no green without blue.

1. Take the My Water Pledge:  Visit and take this pledge on behalf of Athens-Clarke County. The pledge offers many ideas for you to reduce your water use. Simply click on the selections you are doing or plan to do in the next year and hit submit. You will see how many gallons of water are saved by your changes.  Want a chance to win a Prius? Then provide contact information at the end. You will be entered into a drawing if your city is the one with the most pledges by April 30. Hint, hint, you won’t be entered to win if Athens doesn’t reach #1.  Encourage local friends to pledge, too, so Athens is the winning city!


Whether you pour milk or water down the drain, it all is a waste of money and resources.

2. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth:  I ask school children to imagine this scenario: You go to the refrigerator and pull out two fresh gallons of milk. Next, carry them over to the sink and take off the top. Now pour these two jugs straight down the drain. At this point the students start yelling “no!” They insist they would never do this! It is a waste. Milk costs money. Their mom would be mad at them. I then point out that letting your water run while you brush your teeth can waste 2-4 gallons of water at each brushing. This is equal in size to at least two jugs of milk being poured down the drain. If you wouldn’t pour perfectly good milk down the drain, why would you allow perfectly good tap water to run down the drain? Which do you need more for your survival?

3. Kill your lawn:  I realize this sounds like cruel and unusual punishment for your grass. After all, it is just sitting there. Doing nothing. I doubt you play on your lawn often. You don’t tend to it as if it was a food crop. In fact, the only time you probably put your lawn to good use is when you water or mow it. Why not save yourself from a Saturday morning date with a lawnmower and replace your grass with mulch and drought tolerant plants? Richard Restuccia gives you four easy ways to intentionally kill your lawn. I prefer the “smother it” method.  If you need more incentive to kill your lawn, this video may help:  Your Yard is Evil.


If you walk on your grass & it pops back up, it is jumping up to say “Don’t water me!” Listen to your lawn.

4. Become a Water Wise Waterer:  If you don’t yet have the heart to try #3, then learn to make the most of your watering efforts. Water Use It Wisely offers great information on planning and designing your lawn, efficient irrigation, and appropriate maintenance.  If you have an automatic sprinkler system, attach a rain or moisture sensor to shut off the system. These devices are especially helpful if you have travel plans and are unable to adjust your sprinkler for the recent rainfall. Remember, if you over water your lawn, you may end up accomplishing tip #3 after all.

5. Ban the Bag:  We have all used a plastic shopping bag at some point in our life. The question is, what do you do with the bag after you bring it home? The EPA estimates that less than 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled.  The remaining bags have the potential to end up as plastic floating in our oceans. This Earth Day, make a commitment to reduce your use of plastic grocery bags. Carry reusable bags in your trunk and remember to bring them into the store with you. Ban the Bag UGA offers tips to remember your bags.  If you forget your bags, don’t let store employees bag items like your milk jug. Always, always, always recycle any plastic bags you do acquire on your shopping adventures.  And if you see a bag floating around in the wild, pick it up and place it in a recycle bin, even if it isn’t your bag.  It is your Earth.

Unless you are the type who really likes to party and can handle your time wisely, go easy and pick one of these Earth Day celebratory changes to adopt.  It is better to succeed at one than fail at all.  Wishing you and your family for generations to come a Happy Earth Day!

Say “Cheers” with a Glass of Mostly Water!

Today’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.

Brian and Jen

One of the things that makes SBC special is the husband and wife team that are putting it all together. Brian and Jennifer Roth have been working on the brewery for years, perfecting their recipes at Gratis Brewery.

Finally! I get to write a blog about beer!  Water is the main ingredient in beer and our local brewers are working hard to protect this precious resource.

Southern Brewing Company (SBC), is one of three breweries celebrating Athens Beer Week this week: the week leading up to the Classic City Brewfest. The other two are Terrapin and Creature Comforts. Both Terrapin and Creature Comforts are open for tours and tastings.  SBC is finishing the installation of tanks, plumbing systems, and other brewery equipment and are not quite ready for tours.  It was the perfect time to go talk to them about their new brewery and how they are incorporating conservation into the facility and brewing process.


Here is a close up of the bar that Jennifer and Brian are standing in front of in the photo above. It is 100% sourced from local materials or from packaging that would otherwise go to the landfill.

On a brewery tour trip through Europe I met Brian Roth, an enthusiastic brewer who is all about conservation.  Brian is the co-owner of SBC, Athens’ newest brewery.  While visiting breweries in Europe you can’t help but notice the open hoses that seem to be running all the time.  I assumed this was necessary in the brewing process because everything has to be so clean. Brian agreed that brewing beer is water intensive.  He told me that the average brewery uses as much as 12 gallons of water to brew 1 gallon of beer!  He said the process at SBC will “minimize the senseless rinsing” and incorporate water efficient practices that reuse water as much as possible.

Initially, SBC’s goal is to use about one third less water than the average brewery.  Once they are up and brewing with their new equipment they will initiate new ways to save even more water.  For example they hope to install a rainwater capture system to collect water to be used for cleaning and other processes.  Brian also hopes to someday use rainwater for brewing.  Using rainwater to brew beer is an emerging trend in the craft brew industry.  Some breweries in drought stricken areas do this already. (Check out Jester King in Austin, Texas.)

coleman cooler

Brian has a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Georgia. His creativity can be seen throughout the brewery. For example, the large cooler for storing and brewing beer looks like a giant Coleman Cooler. Brian is working on a giant 3-dimensional handle to match the handle on his old cooler shown in the picture.

Like many craft breweries, SBC uses as many locally sourced ingredients as they can. For example, SBC will be hosting a farmers market and using ingredients from the local farmers and fruit from onsite trees and bushes in the brewing process.  Using local ingredients and materials conserves resources.  Fewer miles travelled leads to reduced fuel consumption and less packaging. Sourcing building materials locally saves resources in a similar way.

You can support local businesses and learn more about local breweries in Athens by coming to the events of Athens Beer Week.  You can meet Brian and other local beer celebrities at the Classic City Brewfest, Sunday April 12, from 2:30 – 6:00 PM. (proceed benefit the Athens Areas-Humane Society)

Rare Planet Alignment Occurs Today, Changes Flow of Water

For Immediate Release

Toilet Bowls to Switch Direction due to Unique Planet Alignment  

Earth, Neptune, and Uranus cause unusual activity in your bathroom

It has long been rumored that an alignment of all eight planets and Pluto results in a decrease of gravity, causing us to weigh slightly less and even float.  This line of thinking has been disproven, so on January 4, 2015, the most recent time all the planets aligned, you did not experience weightlessness.

The rare planetary alignment of Earth, Uranus, and Neptune happens in April every 643 years. This short passing moment alters the Coriolis effect and can be observed today at 2:17 pm.

But there is a different phenomenon that truly does occur when Earth, Neptune, and Uranus come into perfect alignment.  On a daily basis one can find the toilets in the northern hemisphere flush counter-clockwise.  Our friends in the southern hemisphere find their toilets flushing clockwise.  This well-known fact is caused by the Coriolis effect.   Today at 2:17 pm, this idea will be flushed.

Astronomers state that this unique tri-planet arrangement occurs every 643 years and reverses the Coriolis effect, resulting in a shift of the directional flow of your toilets.  “For just a minute or so, toilets in the northern hemisphere will flush clockwise, while the southern hemisphere will experience counter-clockwise swirls,” states noted astrologer Dr. Ivana Tinkle.  Flush your toilet around 2:00 and carefully observe the movement of water in the bowl.  Flush again at 2:17 and you will be bowled over by what you see.  Remember, this is just a passing phase, so it will not be around for long.


Which way will your toilet flow today at 2:17 pm?

Bottom line:  Don’t waste this once in a life time opportunity.  Flush your toilet at 2:17 pm today.  Let us know if you observe an anomaly or if this planetary alignment of Earth, Neptune and Uranus stinks.  And while you are near your toilet, take a moment to check for leaks.  They can lead to astronomical water bills and water waste.

For more information go to or call the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office at 706-613-3729 to leave a comet.

#pottyofgold Number One Winner!

This week’s post was written by WCO graduate assistant Lily Cason.

From the thousands who made an entry (har har har) into our #pottyofgold contest, only one winner will emerge.

potty of gold sample entry

One of our #pottyofgold entries

The Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office (ACC WCO) decorated a select few bathrooms in Certified Blue businesses  around town. Lucky citizens of Athens who found a “potty of gold” could enter the contest by sharing a picture of the decorations through social media with the hashtag #pottyofgold.  The prizes at stake were a $50 gift certificate to the winner’s chosen Certified Blue business or $150 towards a WaterSense labeled toilet.

Watch our video to find out who is the Number One Winner (but not that kind of number one!).




FALW_infographic_ten_thousandThe WCO held this St. Patrick ’s Day themed contest in an effort to spread the word about the thousands of gallons of water wasted each year by easily fixable household leaks.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in U.S. homes.” The EPA’s WaterSense program promotes Fix a Leak Week the third week of March each year to raise awareness about this issue.  Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaking showerheads. Take this as a reminder to spend a few minutes checking plumbing fixtures and outdoor irrigation systems forNAPS_ad_jw leaks.  Taking ten minutes to check these things could save you 10% off of your water bill!

For more information about common household leaks and how to fix them check out the EPA WaterSense website: