Water Wednesdays: A drop of water conservation at home

June 17th, 2020

By Karen O’Krafka, GreenUP’s Water Education Programs Coordinator

Every Wednesday, GreenUP’s Water Department invites you to celebrate water and take action to conserve water. For many years, GreenUP has hosted events and shared locally-relevant water wise resources on Water Wednesdays to encourage conservation when it is most urgently needed.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we have moved Water Wednesdays online, and we are excited to be sharing things that can happen right now, even as we are together apart. Instead of gathering together physically, we are supporting the beneficial actions you can make right now, from home, towards conserving water.

“Many of us notice we’re missing routines and structures during the COVID-19 pandemic,” observes Heather Ray, Manager of GreenUP’s Water Department. “We hope that #WaterWednesday from @PtboGreenUP on social media provides helpful resources and also a bit of that structure each week.”

The Water Wednesday resources provide opportunities to consider our relationship with the water in and all around us. For example, in previous years we have encouraged home owners to be water wise by “going for gold” when mid-summer drought conditions cause grass to go dormant. The grass species used in conventional lawns do not thrive in drought conditions, but they do have a natural way of protecting themselves: in response to the stress caused by lack of rain, your lawn will enter a dormancy phase and turn brown or gold. Embracing the mid-summer gold instead of watering can significantly reduce outdoor water use.

Many of our #WaterWednesday resources emphasize the need to care for our environment and, and also encourage us to focus on caring for ourselves and others right now.

“Well-being is so important, especially now with so many more added stresses, ” observes Sarah Taylor, STEM Learning Consultant at the PVNC and a steering committee member with the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival. “Some of the many resources we need to consider sharing right now are strategies to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. This includes recognizing how important water is to our care for ourselves and our loved ones.”

At GreenUP, we know residents are already taking action in record numbers to care for our shared water resources.

“Rain barrel sales are up 51% year over year,” observes Kristen LaRocque, Coordinator of the GreenUP Store. “During such a difficult time, it’s heart-warming to see that more people than ever before are taking action to care of our water resources so we are all better able to take care of each other. We’re really grateful for the subsidy that Peterborough Utilities Group provides to their customers.”

If you are one of those people who have recently purchased a rain barrel, please consider watching the handy installation video with Heather Ray, Manager of GreenUP’s Water Department, available at GreenUP.on.ca/rain/

For homeowners who are eager to dive into more yard projects, you can also explore whether you are eligible for the recently announced Rain Garden Subsidy program, a partnership between the City of Peterborough and GreenUP. Rain gardens can help mitigate flooding, improve pollinator habitat, and save you money. Jenn McCallum, GreenUP’s Water Programs Coordinator, will soon be announcing more online workshops on gardening for responsible water use.

Some parents may be reading about all these yard projects and wondering where people find the time. We feel for you. Many of GreenUP’s staff are parents themselves. Balancing full-time childcare at home is a challenging new reality.

Whether you feel like you are caring for an eager beaver or a slippery fish, our #WaterWednesday content includes a variety of stories, crafts, songs, and games to spark curiosity, and give you that short break you sometimes need just for yourself. Find it all at GreenUP.on.ca/Water-Wednesday-Experiences/

Our Wonders of Water educators, Matthew Walmsley and Karen O’Krafka, recognize the power of weaving local connections throughout our activities. They have visited thousands of students from kindergarten through to grade 8 in Peterborough city and county. Some of the greatest hits from in-class workshops have become much-loved online activities that are easy to facilitate at home.

There is also entirely new #WaterWednesday content, like a three-part audiobook series that takes kids on an adventure through the Jackson Creek Watershed. These stories weave together local flora and fauna with fun and entertainment, catalyzing curiosity for nearby nature. As Peter Demakos, a facilitator and master storyteller once said, “Nobody remembers facts – stories get to our hearts.”

We hope these activities also support educators in their incredible efforts to shift learning online.

“GreenUP shares so many simple, yet important ideas that help our community get outside and enjoy our backyards,” says Sarah Taylor. “They remind us of the beauty that awaits when we step outside and just look, smell, or touch. I also feel that sometimes our families may not know about opportunities for funding that allow anyone to garden and ‘green up’ their neighbourhoods.”

Whether you are interested in water conservation, landscaping, education, or all three of these areas, #WaterWednesday is here to provide you with some weekly inspiration. Follow @PtboGreenUP to discover our #WaterWednesday posts on social media. To find out more about rain gardens and the subsidy visit GreenUP.on.ca/ready-for-rain/

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