Published: January 28, 2011
RiverXchange is an innovative, year-long water resources project that OSE staff participated in for the first time in 2011. Elementary school students learned about water rights thanks to WRAP employees. Water Rights Specialist Rick Lusher, District VI-Santa Fe, and Rio Gallinas Water Master Luis Aguirre visited two classes at each of Albuquerque’s Hawthorne and John Baker Elementary Schools on January 18 to teach students about water rights.
Using a gallon of water and cups, the students modeled the difference between Riparian Water Rights used in the eastern US, and Prior Appropriation Water Rights used in the West. In the photo above, Rick introduced a few “water right words” and used the map to show regional differences in precipitation and how that affects water rights. The presenters experienced full participation by the students during the activity. By asking a few follow-up questions, it was clear to them that most of the students could repeat the concepts covered during each session. Teachers seemed appreciative of their efforts to share with their classes the concepts of having a water right.
Water Rights Specialist Jennifer Allred of District I-Albuquerque worked with two classes. “They were more than happy to participate in the water activity. We discussed the effects of too much water in parts of the world, as well as areas that chronically lack water, and how that impacts people. The actual use of water in the activity, and seeing the lack of water, was interesting to them. They talked about how people who have water need to share,” said Jennifer.
Middle Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team, Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, US Bureau of Reclamation, and Santa Fe County provided funding to enable 45 fifth grade classes from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe County to participate. Experiential EE, LLC, raised the funds and coordinated all aspects of this project. The New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance is their fiscal partner. Project Manager Amy White is shown at left conducting a training session of the water modeling activity with Rick, Luis, and Water Rights Specialist Doug Crosby, District I-Albuquerque.
Amy was also on hand to assist Luis as he taught two water rights classes to students at Turquoise Trail Elementary School, south of Santa Fe. “Both of the teachers and their students were interested and participated in the topic of water rights. It was great to see their smiles and hear their questions and comments. I enjoyed volunteering for this project and would recommend that we do it more often,” said Luis.
Doug noted some interesting attitudes from his students while conducting the shortage-sharing exercise in his classes. When the students drew the card to take five cups of water, the highest quantity allowed for flood irrigation, they acted like a king or queen with all the wealth. Then, as the game progressed and the pitcher/aquifer went dry and some students had to go without water for their needs, the water king/queen got embarrassed that they had so much more water than the other water users. In one exercise, Doug polluted the water (with instant coffee) before everybody had what they needed. One boy, who was going to hypothetically re-open “The Beach Waterpark” decided he didn’t want to deal with the liability of using the dirty water. He opted to give his water back and keep the Waterpark closed.
For more information on River Xchange, visit www.waterfestnm.com.
Developed by Experiential EE, LLC four years ago, RiverXchange partners with
fifth grade classes in New Mexico with fourth or fifth grade classes throughout
the US or world as “high tech pen pals.” Together, students learn about their own
local water issues and describe what they are learning on private wiki websites. A
fi eld trip to the local river, tributary or water body is required for all participating
classes. Th e project is free of charge for New Mexico teachers. It runs throughout
the school year and includes wiki website training, field trip and bus coordination,
and guest speaker coordination (which is where OSE came in). Guest speakers
visit the classroom to do hands-on activities/presentations of 45-60 minutes relating
to Unit 1: Understanding a Watershed, Unit 2: Water in Our Society, and Unit
3: River Ecosystem.
New Mexico State Engineer: John D’Antonio, PE
Produced by Planning & Communication Division
Editor: Karin Stangl, APR, Director
Public Relations Specialist: Julie Maas