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


Thank Water for the Birds, and Everything Else.

By: Marilyn Hall, ACC Water Conservation Coordinator

A customer called to tell me that she saw a great blue heron on Trail Creek over the weekend. She was excited because Trail Creek was such a mess not that long ago. (Remember the chemical spill that turned the water toilet-bowl-blue?) She watched as the bird silently stalked the small fish swimming in the stream. She marveled at the creature’s beauty and patience. Three years ago this scene would not have been possible. Thanks to the regenerative process of the stream’s ecosystem, the birds are back.

People all over the world recognize and appreciate the regenerative and healing properties of water: Soaking in warm water will quiet and soothe the body. Being by the sea renews one’s sense of wonder and humility. Water ceremonies cleanse the soul in many religious traditions. Drinking water satisfies the most fundamental need of all life.

At its simplest, water is made of two hydrogen atoms bonded with an atom of oxygen. There are about 326 million trillion gallons of water on earth and it exists in three states of matter: liquid, solid, and gas. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water. Life began in water. Water flows through each of us, our families and our friends.

Water is part of everything we give thanks for this season. So as we enjoy the love of friends and family and show our gratitude for our many blessings, remember that water makes it possible.

One more thing, I am also thankful for the woman who called just to tell me about the bird she saw on the water.  She reminded me that it is the little things that make life so awesome!

Thanksgiving Water Conservation: Possible?

Last week I talked about how important water is to us, and how thankful I am for it.

With my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) right around the corner, I wanted to explore water conservation options during the big meal.  It’s not something that I would normally think of, but this internship has really opened my eyes to always thinking about conserving our H2O.

Let’s start with food prep:

Frozen foods?

Defrost them in the refrigerator instead of running them under hot water.  It just takes a little bit of thinking ahead to transfer foods from the freezer to the fridge.  But…if you’re cooking the big meal, you’ll be doing a lot of planning anyway.

Washing fresh vegetables and fruit?

Designate a bowl with fresh water instead of sticking them under running water.  Your veggies, fruits, and water bill will thank you.

What’s so bad about running your tap water?  Every minute can mean 2 gallons of water down the drain.

Moving onto cooking:

Frying your turkey? 

This is something I’ve never tried…but for those of you that love watching it sizzle in that deep fryer, I have some tips for you after it’s done.

So, what do you do with it?

-You can put it back in the original container, freeze it, and reuse it up to 6 months later.  It might sound strange…but some of the best restaurant food I’ve had has been cooked with old grease.

-You can add unscented kitty litter, sand, or sawdust to the grease to solidify it, then put it in the garbage.

-You can let it solidify and dump it on trash day.

-Please, Please, PLEASE don’t pour the grease down your sink!  There’s a large possibility it will congeal and block your pipes…and I’m quite sure plumbers would rather not work over the holidays to clean out turkey grease…especially if they’re not getting to eat any of that delicious turkey.

Now to the clean-up:

Fancy china?

I definitely hand wash my Thanksgiving dishes, what with the fancy plates and glasses and all that hoity-toity stuff.  The EPA recommends that you fill one side of your sink with soapy water, place all your dirty dishes in it, scrub, then transfer to the other side for rinsing.  But…don’t let the rinsing-side have running water, until you have a pile of dishes to rinse at once!


Don’t put them down the sink, put them in the trash using a paper towel or paper napkin.  The garbage disposal uses a lot of water, so keep that to a minimum.

These tips can help you save up to 10 gallons of water!  (By the way, that’s 80 pounds…hefty)

Every little bit helps, even if it’s only ten gallons at a time.

Be smart on Turkey Day, be thankful you have the running water with which to cook a wonderful meal to share with your family.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Annaliese Ashley-Intern

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 11/27/12

Water You Thinking About on Thanksgiving?

I’m thinking about how thankful I am for water!

If I’ve learned anything during this internship, it’s how valuable water really is to us, to our city, to Earth.  As my time in the Water Conservation Office draws to a close, it’s really had me thinking about how much water, two hydrogens and an oxygen, really means to my life.

The staff here at the Office and those that work around the clock at our treatment and reclamation facilities…Athens wouldn’t run without them.  In fact, we couldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner without those that give up their holidays to keep our water clean and running.

Even beyond Athens, water is essential.

Our bodies are about 60% water, our  brains are 70% water, and our lungs are nearly 90% water.  Without water…we’ll die.  It helps keep our body temperature normal, it keeps our joints cushioned and functioning properly.  It protects our spinal cord, lungs, and other sensitive tissues.  It gets rid of wastes we create through other essential bodily processes (like digestion, breathing, growing, etc).  It helps keep us cool in the heat (perspiration).

The list goes on…our bodies can’t function without it.

The importance of water is even bigger than our bodies.

The Earth needs it.  “The Blue Planet,” is called that for a reason: it’s 70% water.  However, 97% of that water is saltwater, which, unless it’s desalinized, is useless to us.  The remaining 3% is freshwater (useable), but 2% is frozen in our ice caps and glaciers.

We have 1% of all the water on Earth to use.

All of that water, salt and fresh, fill the oceans, rivers, lakes, and underground reservoirs that support animals, plants, and human existence.  And, by the way, most of Earth’s species live solely in water.

There are an estimated 7million species (excluding bacteria and viruses) living on Earth.  40,000 of those are fish.   200,000 are molluscs, 150,000 are crustaceans, 14,000 are echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins, etc), and several thousand sponges and jellyfishes.

That’s over 404,000 species living in the water…not to mention the insects that lay their eggs in the water…and the plankton.

AND all terrestrial species (that includes us) share water with them.

Isn’t the Earth cool?  I know I just threw a lot of numbers at you, but it just goes to show how many living things besides us rely on having clean water.  Makes me even more thankful that some humans (like those that are on our water team in Athens) dedicate their lives to keeping it clean.

Annaliese Ashley-Intern

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 11/13/12