Water Education Festival Draws Thousands of Elementary School Children to UCI

Professor Bill Cooper, known around campus as the water boy, spoke to more than 500 elementary school children about the importance of wetlands in treating water at the 2013 Children’s Water Education Festival. Held over two days in UCI’s Aldrich Park, the annual festival educates Orange County’s third, fourth and fifth graders about local water issues and how they can protect water supplies and their environment.

Presented by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) and offered as a free field trip for local schools, the event draws more than 7,000 children each year. Cooper’s presentation was one of 65 booths sprawled around the park.

“The OCWD, as one of the most progressive water agencies in the world, has sought to educate the public for years on the importance of water to Orange County, Southern California and California,” says Cooper, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Urban Water Research Center.  “We collectively believe that by educating today’s youth, we are creating the next generation of ‘water warriors,’ who will take the message of water conservation and water reuse for sustainability to their families. They’ll help us spread the word that water is a central issue in sustainability in the 21st Century.”

This is a dream come true for me to have this event at UCI,” says Cooper “Many of the students commented to me that they wanted to be scientists and that science is cool. The festival is a great way to reach out to our local community and show them how cool it is to be on campus at UCI.”

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