‘Waterwise Schools Program for the Bellingen Shire’ by Jane Grebert

By August 3, 2020 In Focus No Comments

Repton Public School is the first school off the rank in Bellingen Shire Council’s renewed commitment to the very successful water education program that is Waterwise Schools. On Monday 27th July Mayor Dominic King and Waterwise Educator Jane Grebert acknowledged Repton Public Schools commitment to being a Waterwise School at a special outdoor School Assembly.  (Above from left: Mayor Dominic King, student leader Kai Fitzgerald, Principal Kristy Glyde, student leader Marlee Seelenmeyer and​ Waterwise Educator Jane Grebert).

The Waterwise Schools Program involves students learning about their local water supply (knowing), how to look after our waterways (caring), and the importance of conserving water (saving). Lessons are stage specific and include activities, demonstrations, stories and games such as looking at how water gets to our taps, impacts to the water catchment, and how litter gets into and affects global water health. Luke Stanley, year 5/6 teacher commented that ‘Content was highly relevant to the local area and pitched at the right level. All students were engaged with the presentation and it was useful to have students begin monitoring water usage.’ As part of the Program students also conduct a school water audit- monitoring the water meter, checking taps and looking at the school’s water bills. As a result a ‘hard to turn off’ tap that was often left running in the girls toilet was replaced, saving up to 10,000 litres of water a year! Students also found through the audit that an average of 16.32 litres of water is used per day at Repton PS, which is considered normal. One area of concern for Repton PS is that all waste water is contained on site and has to be regularly pumped out from septic tanks at a considerable expense. Fortunately the planned new sewerage connection of Repton, Raleigh and Mylestom to the Urunga Sewerage Treatment Plant will eliminate this issue for the School.

During the Assembly Mayor Dominic King, a Geography teacher who himself was a Waterwise Educator at the programs inception around 12 years ago, acknowledged the community’s efforts in reducing water use during the water shortages experienced last year that almost resulted in the need for a costly and ‘not so tasty’ desalinated water. Fortunately the rains came and it did not come to this. Some stage one students shared their water cycle posters about how rain is made, and another stage one student shared with us all that it is important to ‘not waste water’, and ‘don’t litter’! Well said! Repton PS is also involved in monthly water quality testing from the adjacent Bellinger River as part of the Riverwatch Program.

The Waterwise Schools Program has been running since 2007 and is a partnership between Coffs Harbour City Council, Clarence Valley Shire Council, Kempsey Shire Council, Cascade Environmental Education Centre and now Bellingen Shire Council. Some Bellingen Shire Schools were part of the program in 2011 when some funding was made available. With an ongoing commitment all schools in the Shire can now become Waterwise Schools, with refresher visits every 3-4 years. Next is Raleigh PS, then St Marys, and Bellingen Public School. Other Schools in the Shire will have the Program available in 2021 and 2022. We are thrilled that Bellingen Shire Council is supporting this successful program increasing community understanding through our Schools of this most precious resource- water. For more information contact Jane Grebert [email protected] or Cascade Environmental Education Centre 6657 4188


Jane Grebert 27/7/20

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