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During July members of the Citycare Water team took themselves back to the classroom to share their knowledge with a new generation.
Understanding the water cycle, and the many and varied components of what happens to water, is one of the tools used to help our young people look after this taonga for future generations. We all expect to turn on the tap and freshwater to come out or the toilet to flush on command and we all expect rainwater to drain safely away, but we don’t always understand our individual connection to these functions and why its essential to treasure our resource.
To help generate a better understanding and awareness of these issues the Tread Lightly Charitable Trust established the Tread Lightly Drain Game which explores the difference between the stormwater and wastewater systems, where the different drains lead to, and the effects that pollutants, contaminants and rubbish entering the different systems has on freshwater and marine environments. Longer term, the Trust hopes to inspire positive behaviour change to create environmental benefit.
Citycare Water is a key sponsor of the Drain Game hands-on interactive classroom designed for primary school students, so it made sense for members of our team to share their expertise with students at East Tamaki Primary School in South Auckland. The students had participated in the Drain Game activity in the days before and were ready for a real life “show and tell” learning experience.
Kurt Muller – Team Leader, Drainage (wastewater), Rowan Walding – Supervisor, Stormwater and Rory O’Connell – Team Leader, Water and Meters, spent the morning at the school answering students’ questions about what goes on behind the scenes to ensure every community has access to safe drinking water, safe and treated wastewater and beautiful waterways for us and for future generations to swim in, fish in, and explore.
The students were all aged between eight and eleven years old and approximately 100 students participated.
Kurt kicked off the session with a focus on wastewater treatment plants and an exercise in identifying the top three culprits for causing blocked wastewater pipes – wet wipes, cooking oil and fabrics. The students got to view footage from inside blocked pipes and to focus on the intriguing impact of fatbergs! There was also a clear line drawn around the consequences of blocked wastewater pipes on the rest of the network, including the risk of overflow of wastewater inside private properties or public spaces and cross contamination of the stormwater network resulting in pollution of a local waterways and beaches.
Then it was onto the importance of maintaining the integrity of the stormwater system and reinforcing the message that only rain goes down the drain.
The session wrapped up with a chat about drinking water and a reminder to students about the role they can play in preserving this precious resource. This includes reporting leaks, keeping an eye on water meters for unusually high-water usage and making small changes to our routine, for example keeping our showers short and turning off the tap when brushing our teeth.
The team ended the session with footage of a water main break and a discussion around water waste through leaks and cross contamination, and a gentle reminder to be kind and considerate towards any service people, as they are working hard to fix issues along the network for the wellbeing of our communities.
The session introduced a new generation of students to the importance of every person doing their bit to keep our water safe. This is even more important than ever given the constraints on our resource and infrastructure. Citycare Water will certainly be back to the classroom again soon to inspire another group of young learners.
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Water and wastewater pump stations across Christchurch are currently being refurbished by Citycare Property to update the city council buildings which are a critical part of the community’s infrastructure assets.
Giving it a try and spending some valuable time alongside the Citycare Water teams while they work is becoming a true gateway to employment experience for high school students in Taranaki and Auckland.