WaterPalooza included a coloring contest for kids.

On the last Saturday in September, St. Joseph (Mo.) Water Protection held its first WaterPalooza — part of a public outreach campaign crafted “to let the people we serve know how we’re spending their money,” says Sean DeWeese, environmental services supervisor.

WaterPalooza was held in the parking lot of the Remington Nature Center beside the Missouri River, on Smithsonian Museum Day when admission to the center was free. “We knew people would take advantage of the free day at the nature center,” says DeWeese. “That helped us draw a crowd.”

The event came three days after a ribbon cutting media tour that showed off an $18 million UV disinfection project at the wastewater treatment plant. News about the project’s completion also mentioned WaterPalooza.

The utility’s outreach contractor, Shockey Consulting Services, conceived the event and worked with utility staff for two months to plan it. Five Water Protection staff members and employees of engineering consultants working on projects for St. Joseph staffed booths and answered questions.

The event showcased watersheds, two creek separation projects, a water-quality testing station and the UV system. A grocery store sponsored a coloring contest for kids. Local merchants provided free food; Boy Scouts cooked and served it. Girl Scouts painted rain barrels.

“It was outstanding,” DeWeese says. “It was raining that day, but turnout was good. Other cities have had similar events. Ours more or less grew organically.”

One goal of the event was to help propel the utility’s rebranding. “We are rebranding from ‘water pollution control’ to ‘water protection,’” says DeWeese. “This gave us an opportunity to move that idea along.” Such efforts can help further the aims of the Fire Chief Project:

  • Raise clean-water operators to the stature of the fire chief.
  • Make kids grow up wanting to be clean-water operators.


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