Regional water authorities, tasked with reducing the use of groundwater in Harris County over the next 20 years, consider water conservation to be a big piece of groundwater use efforts. To that end, officials are partnering with local conservation groups to teach children about water conservation through a historical lens.
Save Water Texas began in 2004 as a venture between the North Harris County Regional Water Authority and seven school districts, including Cy-Fair ISD. The organization is now sponsored by a number of water agencies and local municipal utility districts.
SWT has offered teaching materials and presentations for children in second, fourth and seventh grades for the past five years, reaching more than 35,000 children in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties over that time, co-founder Barbara Payne said.
“By helping them to understand—before bad habits are ingrained—that water is too precious to waste, perhaps they will make sound, informed decisions,” she said.
Lead educator Teresa Bosworth-Green said reaching out to children can actually be more effective than reaching out to adults.
“Children are knowledge sponges,” she said. “We get them thinking and talking, and they actually carry [the message] out to their families, parents and friends better than adults would.”
As a part of her presentation, Bosworth-Green references the pioneer days. She explains to students that water for drinking, cooking, bathing, doing laundry and growing crops had to be carried in buckets, and the settlers eventually learned to build windmills and water pumps to yield groundwater.
Payne said children should learn to conserve now because someday they will have to pay a much higher price for water when they become adults with children of their own.
Water conservation is vital because every living thing requires water to survive, Payne said.
“There are few things, finite or not, on this planet that we are so careless about wasting,” she said.
Payne said most people do not mean to waste water, and that changing old habits can come with little sacrifice, such as turning off the water when brushing one’s teeth or only watering a lawn when it needs it.
She said today’s children can learn from those in the past who had to carry water in buckets several times a day.
“Today’s students are quick to appreciate and understand that they have an important role in protecting this finite resource,” she said. “Quite simply, they learn from our past to influence our future.”