In a no-waste world, CD jewel cases become weighted stands for outdoor environmental displays, two-liter soda bottles are composting bins and cake supplies from the local grocery store evolve into the perfect educational tool for learning about the impact of food waste on landfills.
These are just a few conservation examples students from Beaufort and Jasper counties studied at Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority’s (BJWSA) inaugural Sustainability Fair, held Oct. 26 at its Administrative Campus.
“We held the event in conjunction with World Sustainability Day, which is October 27,” said Lou Brown, public education and engagement planner. “It’s been three years since our last in-person event for students, which was Trick or Treatment. We were thrilled to host several community partners in the sustainability effort, along with 400 fifth graders from Beaufort and Jasper counties.”
Internal exhibits included a water-saving kit demo by Chief of Plant Operations Brian Chemsak, P.E. and Water Operations Manager Kevin Sexton. Each student took home a kit to test water leaks in their homes.
Director of Technology & Innovation Tricia Kilgore, P.E. taught them to identify common pipe materials and how to test for lead pipes. Kilgore also serves as the lead on BJWSA’s sustainability programs.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Administrator Jonathan Carey and SCADA Specialist Clayton Balassi displayed their mobile system, which shows how technology can monitor the entire system and provide timely alerts.
Chief of Customer Care Linda Tillery and Human Resources Talent Partner Phill Lovell stepped outside their roles to become game show hosts, educating each group about “The Price is What?” and “What not to Flush!” respectively. Students and adults were surprised to see the costs of bottled water and milk compared to tap water and to learn that only toilet paper should be flushed – and never so-called “flushable” wipes.
Smaller exhibits highlighted several internal sustainability efforts, including the Great Swamp Water Reclamation project, an expanding solar array program and the importance of water reuse efforts.
In addition to internal programs at BJWSA, the Authority also showcased the work of Jessica Kochman with Port Royal Sound Foundation, Annie Boyd with Beaufort Conservation District, Jean Fruh with The Outside Foundation, Chloee McGuigan with Beaufort County Recycling and Kris Abell with SCDHEC’s Greenleaf Education program Take Action SC and Don’t Waste Food. With these partners, students learned about oyster shell recycling, what everyday items can be recycled, the importance of the Lowcountry’s ecosystem, easy ways to compost and how stormwater affects fresh water sources.
Students carried compostable passports to each station and received reusable water bottles as another take-home reminder.
“BJWSA’s new strategic focus plan emphasizes the importance of sustainability, complying with the federal revisions to the Lead & Copper Rule, and educating customers and stakeholders,” said Director of Public Affairs Pam Flasch. “We want this plan to have teeth and legs – and to be not only top of mind internally, but also to our customers, stakeholders and sustainability colleagues.”
BJWSA hosts an entire suite of educational outreach on their website at bjwsa.org/education-outreach. In addition to videos about the water and wastewater processes, there are lessons, experiments and activities for students of all ages.
Learn more about BJWSA’s commitment to sustainability at bjwsa.org/sustainability or #SUSTAINABLEBJWSA.