Boy and girl drinking water with straw

"The festival, a two-hour daytrip activity for the kids during or around their learning units in school, gives kids a chance to experience the lessons from class first-hand from the city’s environmental resources staff"

The Peoria City Council agreed in a recent meeting to permanently increase the amount of Project WET festivals held annually for the city’s young students.

Project Water Education for Teachers (WET) is a study unit for fourth-graders at Peoria schools, sponsored by the University of Arizona, encompassing a variety of aspects of maintaining and supplying water to the city.

The festival, a two-hour daytrip activity for the kids during or around their learning units in school, gives kids a chance to experience the lessons from class first-hand from the city’s environmental resources staff as well as those from the university in a variety of activities.

In the past, the city held one Project WET festival per fiscal year at Pioneer Park in Peoria. However, due to distance restrictions on the city’s school buses, only schools close enough to the park could attend.

Environmental services manager Bob Hollander said the addition of a festival at Alta Vista Park allows those from all area schools a chance to learn from the hands-on activities. The city ran a northern one this past school year, but the council’s consent allows it to be a permanent fixture.

“We felt there’s a need for the northern schools to get the benefits that the festival brings to the kids, so that’s why we went forward with it,” Hollander said.

The four units covered in the event, each by 30-minute stations of group activity, are groundwater, water conservation, water cycle and watersheds. Each allows the kids to move and use their legs while learning valuable lessons about what makes the city’s water run in the desert. Hollander said the city has heard numerous great reviews of the activities from parents and teachers alike about the event, and is excited to provide it on a consistent basis.

“I hear overall that the response is extremely positive. That’s the right age for the programs and the way they run it,” he said.

There are sufficient funds in the water services department, the council agreed, to run the second event at no additional cost to Peoria residents. Hollander said the schools’ unit, as well as the festivals, which are scheduled until 2025 under the current council contract, are not only a valuable lesson in school, but moving

forward as Peoria citizens in the years to come.

“This is a really important program, indicating the importance of the water resources to our population,” Hollander said. “You start young, so the kids get the knowledge and grow up to be adults who understand how this works. That’s what we’re striving for.”