Conservation: Music to Our Ears

This week’s post was written by Caroline Cummings, WCO Intern and music junkie. 

Living in Athens, we are lucky enough to experience firsthand some of the best music in the country. Whether it’s nationally acclaimed rock legends like R.E.M., local college kids that like Chinese food (hint: the B-52s), or the street performers that can turn anything, including buckets, into instruments, there’s no denying that the people of Athens know their music. Assuming you at least listen to, like, or maybe even LOVE music like I do, music festivals seem like the ideal place to make our dreams come true; it is important, however, that we are aware of the impact our beloved music festivals have on our environment, especially our water.

It’s no surprise that thousands of people gathered into one venue produces waste, uses water, and leaves behind a nasty carbon footprint. What is pleasantly surprising, however, is the initiative many festivals are taking to reduce their waste production and water consumption, as well as promote sustainability in the lives of their attendees. With the recent release of many festival lineups, ‘tis the season to make travel arrangements and purchase tickets to see your favorite bands. Lucky for us, there are festivals all over the country covering all genres that are determined to make a positive impact on our water conservation and sustainability efforts.

1. Tortuga Music Festival, April 15-17, 2016

rtoLocated in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, TortugaFest is one of the most environmentally conscious festivals of its kind. With a mostly country, rock, and roots lineup and headliners such as Blake Shelton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tim McGraw, Tortuga Fest has attracted like-minded fans from across the country to enjoy a weekend at the beach. Aside from guaranteeing proper waste disposal with the help of the Clean Vibes organization, Tortuga puts an emphasis on water conservation and protection. Portions of ticket purchases are donated to Rock the Ocean, an organization consisting of 30+ groups that promote conservation of our oceans through interactive activities, events, and educational programs such as funding field trips to local waterways for low-income students. Rock the Ocean’s presence at the festival is almost as big as the bands playing there; they set up an entire “Conservation Village” within the festival grounds. Here, festival-goers can learn ways to conserve water, reduce pollution in the oceans, and even win a chance to meet one of the headliners of the festival. The goal of Conservation Village, best stated by the festival itself, is to “allow fans to leave the festival with an ‘awakened consciousness’ of the issues our oceans and marine environments are facing, and most importantly, what they, the fans, can do to make a difference!” Who doesn’t love an awakened conscience?

http://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/conservation/

2. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June 9-12, 2016

Named for the French words “bonne” and “rue,” meaning “good” and “street,” respectively, Bonnaroo, located in Manchester, Tennessee, is considered the “best on the streets” by many festival-goers. While it’s hard to beat seeing artists such as Pearl Jam, Tame Impala, Dead & Company, plus ~100 more musicians and comedians, many other large festivals also can’t hold a candle to Bonnaroo’s sustainability efforts. By partnering up with Rock the Earth and Carbon Shredders, Bonnaroo teaches its attendees the basics of conservation of natural resources and leading a more sustainable life, including reducing water consumption. Paired up with Carbon Shredders is We Are Neutral, an organization that works with large-scale events to reduce their large-scale energy and water usage, which has made Bonnaroo one of the greenest festivals in the world. The festival also teams up with Clean Vibes to ensure proper waste disposal to divert from landfills and prevent pollution. Similar to our office’s Certified Blue program, Bonnaroo also implements aBroo15_News_Post_Sust “Sustainable Vendors” badge of honor.  Vendors that are labeled with this badge use locally grown products and make conscious efforts to decrease their waste production and resource consumption. If the Certified Blue-like program at ‘Roo isn’t enough to draw you away from Athens for a couple days (which it should be!), consider going to see some of our very own local bands perform at this festival. Past lineups have included Athens bands Drive-by Truckers, Neutral Milk Hotel, Futurebirds, Reptar, and Radiolucent.

http://www.bonnaroo.com/get-involved/sustainability

3. Rock the Green Music Festival, September 17, 2016

A music festival completely built on sustainability, Rock the Green has definitely lived up to its name. Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this festival has featured nationally recognized artists like Third Eye Blind, Ben Folds, and Atlas Genius. Alongside these well-known performances, Rock the Green also hosts and promotes many local artists, a notion we Athenians embrace. Although the 2016 lineup has yet to be released, it’s safe to say this festival will not disappoint musically or conservationally. Rock the Green 2016 will be located at a new venue in Milwaukee’s Reed Street Yards, an eco-industrial park located on Freshwater Way. When not in use for the festival, the park focuses on Milwaukee’s growing water industry and the technologies that help ensure water is both abundant and clean. Due to the new venue, Rock the Green 2016 will also feature another welcome change: a focus on water conservation. Along with creating near-zero waste, Rock the Green is working with the 15222879439_09af23833b_bMilwaukee Water Council to promote freshwater sustainability at the festival using Reed Street Yards’s research and initiatives as a basis. Rock the Green’s mission statement perfectly sums up what this festival is all about: “to educate and empower the community to take actionable steps to live sustainably.”

http://www.rockthegreen.com/rock-the-green-festival-returns-september-17th-2016

4. Lightning in a Bottle, May 25-30, 2016

Last on our list but certainly not least is the festival Lightning in a Bottle, which will take place in Bradley, California this Memorial Day weekend. Described as “a fourth dimension where only the weird and wonderful flourish,” Lightning in a Bottle is a conglomeration of music, yoga, art, education, and sustainability. This summer it will host artists such as Chet Faker, Grimes, and Jamie XX. Of course here at the ACC Water Conservation Office, we like to focus on the sustainability aspect, and this festival does not disappoint. With an atmosphere dedicated to community, Lightning in a Bottle makes sure to keep the community surrounding the festival clean, happy, and sustainable. The festival has put in place several water initiatives that promote conservation, including an on-site environmental impact assessment and educational signs to encourage reduction in water use. The impact assessment lets festival staff and attendees rest assured that no waste from the festival negatively impacts nearby Lake San Antonio while the signs within the festival grounds educate attendees on things such as the benefits of low-flow toilets, water fountains, and shower taps. They also make use of the festival’s grey water by spraying it on the grounds to prevent dust and air pollution. Aside from all the amazing water initiatives the festival has implemented, they also do their part to reduce festival energy costs and create a net-zero energy usage through carbon offsets. The main goal of what they callethos “Ethos” (their green initiative) at Lightning in a Bottle is “… to change lives. We want people to not only be inspired at the festival, but to leave and make a big difference at home in their communities.”

http://2015.lightninginabottle.org/ethos/

From home- If you’re unable to make it to any of these festivals this year, there is another awesome way music can help you conserve water from home. Try picking out a favorite song to play in the shower and use it as a timer to take quicker showers and save more water, but don’t forget to sing along!

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Hello. It’s Me.

This week’s blog was written by WCO graduate assistant and Adele-fan Lily Cason.

Have you seen Saturday Night Live’s recent skit about how Adele’s song “Hello”* can keep your family from fighting at Thanksgiving?

 

In the video a family gets into some conversation minefields, but the holiday spirit is saved when the family is united by their love of Adele. We all love Adele. Her single “Hello” has reached #1 on the charts in 28 countries and became the first song ever to have more than 1 million digital sales in a week. Adele seems to be universally loved and appreciated.

But “#1” doesn’t just apply to music. There’s another thing that unites us all: water. More than 7 billion people use water every day in every country around the world. I was wondering if maybe water could unite our families at Thanksgiving as well.

Hello from the other siiiide! Those of us who work for water utilities have a special glimpse into a hidden world. In the time that I have been working for the ACC Public Utilities Department, I have learned so much about our infrastructure and the issues we deal with in the water world. I often joke that this job has ruined my life, because I am now obsessed with scraping my dishes clean so as not to send clog-producing fats, oils, and grease down the drain. I make sure to only flush the 4 Ps (Poo, Pee, Puke, and toilet Paper) and throw floss and tissues in the trash instead. I refuse to leave a restaurant water glass without drinking all of the water in it (water conservation and hydration win!). I turn the faucet off while brushing my teeth. I use grey water to water my plants.

Why do I do all of these things? Because I am so grateful to have clean water. In the United States we are lucky to have clean drinking water and wastewater treatment that keeps our waterways clean. So I do what I can to help maintain these systems that I feel so lucky to have. Part of that means sharing what I’ve learned. At the Water Conservation Office we lead tours of our facilities, talk about water in school programs, and post to social media to share what we know.

My friends and family may get tired of hearing about my Adele and water obsessions, but at least I can say that I’ve tried (too much?).

I encourage you to share what you know about water with your loved ones this Thanksgiving. Whether you talk about how to handle the grease left over from your delicious holiday cooking (eg. don’t pour it down the drain), how the water bears that help clean our wastewater can survive in outer space (!), the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have access to improved sanitation, or whatever else you find interesting.  Remind your loved ones to conserve and appreciate our water resources because it’s no secret that the both of us…are running out of time.

When my family goes around the table on Thursday to say what we are thankful for, I will definitely say: Adele.

And water too, of course. 🙂

* Here is the original music video for Adele’s “Hello” in case you missed it

What Do You Mean Summer is Almost Over? It Was Just May!

This week’s blog was written by Christina Abner, an intern who loves making bucket lists as much as she loves summertime

It really seems like this summer has gone by fast.  Just last week, there was still a beach accessory section in every store and this week they’ve all turned into back to school supplies.  I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely not ready for summer to go! In just a couple of weeks our beloved town will have many people returning here for another year of school, and most parents will be rejoicing. Don’t get me wrong.  I love football season and being squished into Sanford Stadium calling the Dawgs, but summer just leaves so fast, that it almost feels like an unfinished project. Since this is my last week in Athens, I thought what better way to send off the summer than with a fun, “water themed” bucket list! Continue reading

AthFest is so much Cooler when you recycle

AthFest is so much Cooler when you recycle

This week’s blog was written by Christina Abner, an intern at the WCO

It’s that time of year again where many Athenians and people from all over congregate for our local music festival “AthFest” and we will be there! The Water Conservation Office is participating in KidsFest where we will be making fun crafts that incorporate music and of course, Water!

If you would like more information about AthFest visit the link: http://athfest.com/

If you would like more information about AthFest visit the link: http://athfest.com/

So make sure to plan on joining us for one of the best events Athens has to offer

Water is not the first thing you think about when thinking of a music festival, but with a large number of people coming to Athens, it’s interesting to think of the logistics of it all. I know for a fact that AthFest and their crew are all about Recycling, but what about conserving water? I had the opportunity to speak with an AthFest representative, Jill Helme, and ask the cold watery facts about this beloved music festival.

When we asked Ms. Helme about ways they were conserving water at AthFest this year she mentioned that since it will be hot out there they will be using low-flow misters at KidsFest, and are going to try to use as little water as possible in other places around the festival. We hoped that there would be water bottle refilling stations for people who brought bottles but she said, “the city stopped letting us use fire hydrants to let people fill water bottles because they didn’t feel able to ensure the cleanliness of the line/pipes.”  As an alternative to this Athfest will be selling bottled water at the event and will have recycling and composting containers throughout the festival.

People at Athfest can save water by reusing those bottles and recycling them when they are done.

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Did you know it takes about 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic? That’s a lot of water! Recycled plastic requires less water to make water bottles, so “Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling” saves water too! In 2013 alone, the United States produced over 33 Million Tons of plastic and only 9% of it was recycled.  Here in Athens we can do a lot better! So this weekend reduce your water bottles by reusing them, and remember when you are done with them recycle!!! We have the power to leave a lasting mark on our community by simply making better choices today.

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We hope yall enjoy AthFest and remember to reuse and recycle your bottles this weekend.  Here are some useful last minute quick tips as it’s going to be a scorcher this weekend!

A couple last minute quick tips from the water conservation office:

  • We love our Puppy companions, but please do not let them come to AthFest!   It is hot, and their little paws will burn on the hot concrete and will be no doggie watering stations.
  • Wear sunscreen! It’s going to be hot, the sun dries out your skin and having a sunburn is never fun!
  • Avoid heat exhaustion, “Stay HYDRATED”, bring a reusable water bottle to refill so when the heat hits 90 degrees you’ll be ready!
  • One important reminder about Port-a-potties, they are not trash cans!  Remember your 4 P’s  because someone has to manually take out the trash from those things!

Have a great AthFest and stay cool!!  See you there!!!

Special Thanks to Jill Helme, Executive Director of AthFest Educates for taking the time to answer our questions!

More information about the Nonprofit event: http://athfest.com/

Water Conservation is a Real Pain

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

I think it is gross to not flush the toilet every time. But, during a drought it is a sacrifice we call should make.

Water Conservation is Real Pain.

During drought-imposed outdoor watering restrictions, customers often complain to me that their plants are dying.  They are feeling the real pain of conservation measures. The role of water conservation is to manage water use in the short term during a drought and there can be a corresponding loss of productivity or quality of life, a.k.a. “pain”.   Many people endure the pain and make an extra effort to shower less often or only flush when necessary.  Such behavior changes are an important part of reducing water use during a drought or water shortage.

There can also be temporary institutional changes in priorities and policies.  For example, my daughter’s school conserved water during the 2007-2008 drought by switching to disposable forks, plates, and trays.  They balanced the need for waste reduction with the need for water conservation.  Since it was a drought emergency, it made sense to switch to disposables to save water.  This example of conservation was not very painful.

save water and money; october 2006

Saving water saves money. Conservation measures such as installing WaterSense Fixtures and Appliances, replacing turfgrass with water-efficient plants, and making small behavior changes lead to long-term water efficiency. The savings add up.

Water Conservation is the Gateway to Efficiency.

More and more of the “temporary” and least painful conservation measures that are implemented during water shortages are becoming permanent.  When an industry changes its processes in response to a drought mandate, those changes tend to be permanent.  If overall production is the same and uses less water, why change back?  The industry is saving money on its water bill and becoming more efficient.

Short term, emergency conservation measures lead to long term efficiency.  Remember my daughter’s school?  It turns out that they saved money when they switched to disposables, so they never went back to the reusable plates, forks, and trays.  (This does not bode well for our landfill space, but that is a topic for another blog.)  Conservation is a gateway to efficiency.  This is evident at the industries who change their processes, my daughter’s school, and the home where turfgrass is replaced with a watersmart landscape.

Efficiency is Making our Drought Plan a Real Pain. 

Conservation leads to long term resource investment in efficient technology.  This pleases my inner-technogeek, but scares me as I work to revise our drought plan.  As it is now, our drought plan depends on our ability to reduce water demand during a drought.  A decade ago we could call on our community to reduce their water use by 20% or so with outdoor watering restrictions.  Now, their gardening and landscaping activities don’t use nearly as much water.  We estimate that a total outdoor watering ban would reduce our demand by less than 10%.  That is an extremely painful way to reduce water use by just a small amount.  What do we do when the state or other entity tells us to reduce water use by more?  Right now our residential daily water demand is about 40 gallons per day per person.  How low can we go?  

Take Responsibility.

Technological improvements will continue to lower each person’s demand for water.  At some point, it will become nearly impossible to reduce demand with temporary conservation measures and behavior changes.  Utilities are already looking at reusing water, improving system efficiency, desalination, and a multitude of other strategies for improving efficiency and finding additional sources.  Although utilities are doing all they can, I believe everyone should take responsibility for the long term sustainability of our water supplies.

The future of drought preparedness is not in painful, mandatory % reductions:  It is in drought resiliency all the time.  A more broad approach needs to be taken.  Water-saving codes and ordinances mandating efficiency in landscaping, fixtures, hvac, etc. are already on the books in many places.  Those codes are the easy part. Our built environment needs to change to be more water smart. There are many, many studies showing how the built environment affects water supplies.  For example,  higher housing density can reduce water use and green infrastructure can protect water supplies.  The long term sustainability of our water supply hinges on the relationship between how we live and our water consumption.

We cannot put this off.

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Athens-Clarke County is taking steps to plan for  sustainable water resources.  The County has been recognized as a Water First Community for taking a collaborative approach to water planning.

Changes related to land use or water infrastructure take decades to implement and needs to be incorporated into infrastructure planning.  Land development standards, comprehensive plans, codes and zoning ordinances, water offset programs, collaborative regional plans, and public engagement all play important roles in creating sustainable development, resulting in more sustainable water use and resilience to the impacts of drought.

Implementing water-sustaining plans and infrastructure can reduce the real pain of short term conservation measures. Soon it will be time for Athens-Clarke County to update its Comprehensive Plan.  This extensive planning effort provides the perfect opportunity to work on creating a sustainable future for water resources.  If we don’t get started soon, the real pain of water conservation measures may be more than we can handle.

The First Classic City Sprinkler Spruce Up at Clarke Central High School

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

sprinkler-spruce-up_infographicA couple of years ago I watched as Sanford Stadium, home of the Georgia Bulldogs, went through the Ultimate Sprinkler Spruce Up.  The University replaced the old water-wasting irrigation cannon with an efficient system of watering zones and computerized flow meters.  With a price tag of about $200,000, it was a lot more than just a “Sprinkler Spruce Up”.  An actual “Sprinkler Spruce Up” should be done annually, is simple, and not expensive. There are four steps to a Sprinkler Spruce Up:  Inspect, Connect, Direct, and Select.   This is what we did at the Clarke Central High School Baseball field for this year’s Classic City Sprinkler Spruce Up.

Before getting started, I knew we needed to find an expert, so I went to the WaterSense Website and found Randy Boatenreiter of Aquatech Irrigation.  He is a local WaterSense Irrigation Professional.  WaterSense is a program like Energy Star. WaterSense helps people save water with a product label and tips for saving water indoors and out. Products bearing the WaterSense label have been independently certified to perform well; help save water, energy, and money; and and encourage innovation in manufacturing.  Irrigation professionals certified by WaterSense can help reduce water consumption, save money, and maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape by maximizing the efficiency of an irrigation system.  We did all four steps of the Sprinkler Spruce Up.

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Randy Boatenreiter, a Certified WaterSense Irrigation Professional, inspects the irrigation system in the outfield of the Clarke Central High School baseball field.

Step 1 – Inspect  Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads.  Randy went over the whole system.  Most of it was in great shape.  Only a few heads had been broken or had been turned the wrong direction. The grass looked good because the Spring had been rainy.  When I commented on how nice the grass looked, Clarke Central’s Baseball Coach Tray Henson joked, “To be a coach you need a minor in Turf Management!”

Step 2 – Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes.  Randy did not find any pooling water or large wet areas.  That was good news because a leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.

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When sprinkler systems only turn on late at night, it is easy to miss water-wasting problems. These problems are found and repaired during the annual Sprinkler Spruce Up. This zone outside the baseball field was turned off completely.

Step 3 – Direct.  Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to your lawn or prized plants. Clarke Central Baseball has made some great changes to the field over the years.  They made some positive changes to the sprinkler system too, but some things went unnoticed.  This is very common when the sprinklers run at night when nobody is around to see what they are doing. Sprinklers that were not efficiently watering grass were adjusted or removed from the system entirely.

Select.  Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling. The school’s baseball field had an older, but good and reliable timer.  Randy assured us that the timer was fine and money would be better spent on a rain gage or soil moisture meter.  Randy installed a rain sensor that will shut off the sprinklers if it is raining.  He also disconnec

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Chose a Water Sense certified irrigation professional!

ted two zones that Coach Trey said he didn’t need, and adjusted the zones that were not operating at maximum efficiency.

 

Conducting a Sprinkler Spruce Up is a big task at a baseball field.  It took a few hours to find and fix all the problems, but the payoff will be great.  The school will save money on their water bill and the kids will have a beautiful and safe field to play on.

Thanks to Coach Trey, and everyone at the Clarke County School System who helped
us with this Classic City Sprinkler Spruce Up.

 

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.

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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.

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Popcorn heaven!

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Some filmmakers stop and pose for the paparazzi.

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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

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

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

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

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Tyler Ortel and a friend

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The girls behind “Ripple Effect 2034”

Adult/UGA

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

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

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“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.

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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.