They came, they carried, they learned. And they had some cookies, too. At the Harpers Ferry WaterFaire, April 27, people participated in a Walk for Water to learn what it’s like to live in a place where you have to walk several miles to get your drinking water each day — on average, it’s about 3.5 miles, and typically it’s a job assigned to kids. It was a way of building appreciation for our own access to drinking water straight from the tap. For residents and businesses in Harpers Ferry and Bolivar, W.Va., that water comes via Elks Run, a small stream that, along with its tributary Elk Branch, flows entirely within Jefferson County.
After their walks, kids had a turn at the EnviroScape, a model of a watershed with hills and streams and farms and storm drains. They took turns adding “pollutants” to the landscape — in the form of cupcake sprinkles — then saw how these substances move through the watershed during and after rainfall (accomplished by pouring water onto the hills and rooftops).
The event was hosted by Tenfold Fair Trade Collection, the Harpers Ferry Merchant Association, the Town of Harpers Ferry Water Commission, Elks Run Watershed Group, and West Virginia Conservation Agency. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health provided educational materials about drinking-source water protection.
“We had fun at Harpers Ferry WaterFaire. Lots of children and their adults learned about watersheds and how to better care for them,” said Martha Ehlman, owner of Tenfold Fair Trade Collection. “EnviroScape demonstrations are so fun people don’t even realize they are learning.”
“Everyone who visited the WaterFaire venue received information about what a watershed is, and the kids could take home interesting facts about the Elks Run watershed,” said Barbara Humes, a member of the town council and liaison to the water commission. “A good time was had by all.”
WaterFaire is an event of the Safe Water for West Virginia program that helps water utilities inform and engage their customers and communities about local drinking water supplies — and how to help protect them. Safe Water for WV is led by West Virginia Rivers Coalition with support from the WV Department of Environmental Protection.
You can learn more about efforts to restore Elks Run and read the source water protection plan for Harpers Ferry here.