The students of Youth Initiative High School are lucky to have a class called “Water Cycles” where they closely examine this and many facets of our diverse uses can affect these cycles. Omarú Heras Ornelas has worked with many indigenous communities in her home-state of Morelos, Mexico, and used her experiences communicating the importance of how we treat our water to explain how privileged we are to have the water we do. That said, water issues are hardly relegated to impoverished communities in other countries. The Landmark Center itself, where the Youth Initiative operates, has old lead pipes and has to pay for an expensive filtration system to make the water safe to drink. This is on top of various other contaminants found in the tap-water of Viroqua (look it up by zip code, and your own municipal water provider if you have one, here).
After being pushed a bit, it was clear that most of the students had a decent grasp on the basics of the water cycle, and by the end of the class they had added to this a good idea of what a “water footprint” is and what makes up each person’s “footprint”. Many were shocked that only 10% of our footprint in most industrialized nations is household use (drinking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, etc.)
As a hands-on project, we built three simple water filters that can be used on a household level (and the class may even use for drinking water on their trip down the Wisconsin River!)
This kind of education is really critical in all schools and CSP will continue to find ways to bring these fundamentals into our educational system in ways that engage the students and give them a real picture of the wider connections of our every-day actions.