With water use a hot topic in the Santa Clarita Valley, local high school students turned conservation ideas into reality for Castaic Lake Water Agency's (CLWA) first-ever Water Challenge Scholarship Program while earning money for college. The Water Challenge attracted 244 students who proposed 74 projects on water issues-conservation and quality chief among them.
The winning team- Saugus High School 's "Saugus Droplets"-was awarded $7,000 in scholarships for an on-campus water-saving drought-tolerant planter. Participants Kelsey Kotler, Nicole Janossy, Ariana Chedravi, Daniel Leary and Chris Russell launched their project by meeting with Richard Greene from Green's Nursery to learn about irrigation and water use in the Valley's dry climate. The students, who documented their project on YouTube, created an informational brochure that includes water conservation tips and highlights the importance of drought tolerant plants in our semi-arid climate.
"I learned a lot working on the Water Challenge project and didn't know very much about drought-resistant plants, so I was really interested in the research," said Kelsey Kotler, a member of the Saugus Droplets. "At the end of the project when we finally had the drought-resistant plants in the planter on campus, we all stepped back to take a look and it was so rewarding to see all of our hard work come together."
Throughout the six-month project, students regularly updated CLWA education staff on their progress and received assistance and background information on various topics including, but not limited to: water quality, pollution, and conservation. Students also attended a speakers' night, where local water experts and environmental organizations educated them on the Valley's unique relationship to water issues.
Projects were judged by CLWA Directors Jerry Gladbach, Bob DiPrimio and Ed Colley, Santa Clarita Water Division Retail Manager Mauricio Guardado and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth's District Director Jarrod DeGonia. Winning projects will be on display at CLWA's Open House on May 9 where project materials will also be available to the public. Other winners include:
- Second Place ($4,000)-Students Chris Margono and Sabrina Amaro from Canyon High School tested water quality and health effects of plastic additives in vinyl shower curtains.
- Third Place ($3,000)-West Ranch High School students Elizabeth and Josephine Nguyen conducted a science experiment on water quality in local water sources and created a video shown to area elementary school students with lessons about water treatment, the water cycle, pollution and water conservation.
- Fourth Place ($1,000)-Students Rasha Howlander and Joyce Kim from West Ranch High School raised water conservation awareness by reaching out to friends and neighbors with surveys and conservation tips.
- Fifth Place ($500)-Focusing on global warming, West Ranch High School students Jazmin Chavez, Alyssa Gutierrez, Kori Juan, Jaime Lee and Kristin Soriano researched the potential effects on local water supplies and distributed a brochure to the public about water conservation. They also produced a rap music video.