Monday, November 4, 2013

Water History Lessons at the Pathway to Water Quality

Sarah Wolf is an ISDA Resource Specialist, serving Jasper, Benton, Newton, and Lake Counties.

The Pathway to Water Quality committee asked me to serve as a Live Interpreter, teaching water history and conservation, during the state fair to celebrate Pathway’s 20th anniversary.  Visitors enjoyed learning how to wash clothes the old fashioned way, and all the while I was teaching them how water was used 100 years ago.  

The point I wanted to get across to them was that water was often used for multiple tasks in the past, and we tend to waste a lot of water now because using water is convenient.  In the past, because water had to be carried in buckets from the well, water was conserved.  Pioneers would wash clothes with about five gallons, and then use that water to mop the floor or water their garden.  

Now we wash one load of clothes in the washing machine with about 60 gallons, and that water is not used for any other chore before sending it on to the sewage treatment plant or septic system.  The average household of three people uses an estimated 200 gallons of water every day!  

Visitors brainstormed ideas of how to use less water, and hopefully they will consider changing just one water practice in their everyday lives.  Water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved and protected, and together we can make a difference if we are mindful of how we use water!

Educators can find a water history lesson plan that I complied for 5th grade students (adaptable for younger students) at

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