5th-graders will soak up water knowledge

Kissing a fish will be one of the many activities for fifth-graders and their parents during the 17th annual Children’s Water Festival, which will begin today at Mesa State College.



In an effort to teach nearly 1,800 Grand Valley youth about water,  presenters with the 17th annual Children’s Water Festival will let area fifth-graders kiss a fish, hold a fire hose and see ice crystals form.

Those activities will be some of the nearly 70 classes, exhibits or presentations planned during the festival today and Tuesday at Mesa State College.

The Ute Water Conservancy District, the city of Grand Junction and Clifton Water District are putting on the free festival exclusively for area fifth-graders and their parents as a fun way to teach them about water, said Joe Burtard, Ute Water spokesman and coordinator for the event.

Exhibit presenter Lloyd “Butch” Reed has been a part of the festival since its inception. As an employee with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Reed teaches children a bit more about the process of irrigation and how they can help conserve natural resources.

Although fifth grade may seem like a young age to be teaching people about the myriad of ways water affects people in Western Colorado, Reed said he has seen firsthand how the children absorb the information and soak up its value.

Those are reasons why Grand Junction’s water festival is the most well-attended in the state, Burtard said.

In fact, the festival is so popular with children, teachers and presenters that Burtard has to reserve indoor and outdoor space throughout the college campus to hold the event every year.

The festival is designed to be fun, but there is more to the two-day event than watching children get soaked by a vacuum truck that cleans Fruita’s clogged sewers or city streets.

Burtard spends nearly six months every year planning the event and coordinating every presentation and class with School District 51 academic standards for water education at the fifth grade, he said.

Among the dozens of groups scheduled to appear this year are the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Williams Production, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Grand Junction Fire Department.


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