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School kids learn value of water during Water Festival

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga: Hundreds of school children went through stations at the Flint Riverquarium Tuesday, learning the value of water as a part of the annual Water Festival.

The three-day event is hosted through a partnership among the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center, Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful and the Riverquarium.

"Water is our most precious resource and the quantity and quality of water matters to each and every one of us," KADB Executive Director Judy Bowles said. "We have to be vigilant and protect it."

Tuesday, the children learned about water-related topics like conservation practices, pollution and erosion control.

Water has become an increasingly important topic on both the local and state level as politicians in three states have become mired in a fight over who has rights to water that flows through Georgia into Alabama and Florida.

Last week, the Florida Attorney General filed an appeal to a federal court ruling handed down in July that protects Georgia from being forced to release additional water downstream. Florida officials say the ruling puts an endangered species of fish and mussel that live in the Appalachicola River.

More specific to Georgia, water has become a hot button topic for the two remaining gubernatorial candidates, both of whom vowed this week not to build a pipeline across the state to siphon water out of the Savannah River to satisfy Atlanta's water needs.

The same concern has been discussed here, where our access to underground aquifers has some concerned that Atlanta may try to gain access to groundwater supplies in the Flint River and the southern part of the Chattahoochee River.

Closer to home, water conservation and protection efforts are coming in a different form as officials have taken steps to educate the public about ways to avoid threats such as pesticide runoff and pharmaceutical contamination.

Saturday, KADB partnered with local law enforcement to host a pill collection effort that netted more than 300 pounds of pills and liquid pharmaceuticals. The mission of "Operation Pill Drop," was two fold: to get pills out of the hands of those who would sell them or misuse them but to also keep them out of the water supply.

"There have been studies done that show that, because of the old adage of flushing pills down the toilet, our water supply is becoming more medicated," Bowles said. "So rather than flushing them, we're advocating responsible destruction through events like Operation Pill Drop."

More than 900 students from the Dougherty County School System were scheduled to attend Tuesday's session, Bowles said. The festival is now in its eighth year.