A Mural In A Mississippi Plant’s Administrative Building Promotes Protection Of Water Resources

Students paint a mural in a Mississippi treatment plant’s administrative building to call attention to the importance of protecting water resources.
A Mural In A Mississippi Plant’s Administrative Building Promotes Protection Of Water Resources
Plant manager Brenda Gales with the mural she envisioned.

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Amural that graces a large wall of the City of Greenville’s wastewater treatment plant helps connect the facility with its community.

Entitled “Greenville Falls” and painted on an interior wall of the administration building, the 20-foot-long by 10-foot-high mural shows the water cycle and reflects the benefits people derive from clean water.

“It’s the first thing visitors see when they enter the plant,” says Brenda Gales, manager of the 10 mgd (average flow) activated sludge facility. “It’s also the starting point for the many tours we conduct for visitors and students of our local schools and colleges.”

Student project

The idea behind the mural is to educate youth about ecosystems and the footprint each person leaves. Gales and Adrick McMiller, assistant plant manager, came up with the idea in 2012. They contacted Renaissance Scholars, a Greenville nonprofit that motivates, inspires and prepares middle school students for college and provides art-centered and other learning opportunities not usually found in classrooms.

With the help of volunteers from the local chapter of the Teach for America organization, students sketched a design for the mural on the wall. Up to a dozen students showed up on most weekends during the summer to paint the mural, supervised by Teach for America artists Allayna Burman and Darrell Hicks. Some students painted for a couple of hours, and some stayed all day. The project was complete before students returned to school in the fall.

Plant operators laid the groundwork for the student artists by clearing the mural area and stripping the brick wall of photos and award plaques. They also repaired irregularities and conditioned the surface for painting. “Now they make sure the mural is dusted and clean for all the visitors to enjoy,” Gales says.

Positive impact

Gales is proud of the mural and its impact on the community, and especially proud of the students who painted it. “We wanted to reiterate the importance of clean water and show what we do here at the plant,” says Gales. “We wanted to show that the end product is something people can enjoy in activities like fishing, swimming and boating.”

Students from middle schools and high schools take annual tours of the plant and get an overview of the wastewater treatment process. College students from Delta State and Mississippi Valley State universities conduct group training sessions at the plant as part of their environmental science programs.

The mural shows a majestic river cascading through a valley of red clay rocks and a waterfall with deciduous trees in full fall colors against gray stone cliffs. It was unveiled during a ceremony in August 2012 attended by city officials and the artists. Special guests included Mary Hardy, director of Renaissance Scholars; Brad Jones, public works director; and the plant staff including Maple Smith, administrative assistant, and Jack Davis, Class IV operator.

Says Gales, “We want to make sure people know that water is a resource and that we all need to do our part to keep it clean and pollution free for everyone to use.” 



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