Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority Finds a Super Way to Teach Kids About Water

A South Carolina utility features plant workers in costumes to educate and entertain children at its third annual Trick or Treatment.

Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority Finds a Super Way to Teach Kids About Water

Steve Lee, safety specialist, compares prices of different liquids to tap water in a game of “The Price is What?”

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Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority plans to host third annual Trick or Treatment event in October at two of its wastewater treatment facilities.

“We went with a superheroes theme because it is truly applicable to what we do here,” says Pamela Flasch, director of public affairs. “We wanted to encourage our future workers who may be attending the event to think of us that way.”

The first Trick or Treatment in 2019 was in person, and 500 fifth and sixth graders attended over two days. After COVID-19, the 2020 event went virtual. “We hope the 2021 event will be in person again,” Flasch says. “While the short video vignettes we created for the virtual event worked well, the children appreciated the hands-on activities and touring the plants in person.”

Fun with mascots

The authority promoted the event through its website, outreach to schools and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There was a waiting list after the first event, and many adult civic groups and homeowner associations asked to attend when they heard about it and saw it on social media.

The authority is based in Okatie, South Carolina, and treats about 10 mgd of wastewater. The service area covers the two southern counties of Beaufort and Jasper, a tourist area that includes Hilton Head Island and is home to about 100,000 residents.

The half-day, in-person event was held for two days in October from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Staff members all took part in making it fun and engaging. School buses alternated drop-offs of kids throughout the morning. The children were greeted by the mascots Flow, the Clean Water Advocate, and Swampy, the Great Swamp Steward. Pictures were taken with each class, their teachers and the mascots.

A tour guide and monitor took each class through either the Port Royal Island Water Reclamation Facility, home to one of two solar arrays, or the Hardeeville Water Reclamation Facility, winner of an Envision Bronze Award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Carnival atmosphere

“We went with a carnival atmosphere and made it for fun for the kids by putting the exhibits and demonstrations in tents around the plants,” Flasch says.

Throughout the facilities, the students visited booths where staff members from various departments explained different aspects of what they do. One booth had the children look through microscopes to see good versus bad bacteria. Another showed what to flush or not flush, and how the cost of tap water stacks up against bottled water and other common liquids.

The SCADA team showed the students how a SCADA system works. Another booth had the water engineering system, nicknamed WES, that is a favorite at education festivals for the children. Created and built by Brian Chemsak, chief of plant operations, and Kevin Sexton, water operations manager, the interactive unit features a water source pump and a collection of pipes with which children build a working system to get water from a holding tank into buckets. 


At the end of the event, teachers received bags of “creepy candy” to give to their students. They also received a wastewater report to share in their classrooms. The children received a trifold brochure that among other things told them what they should and should not put down the drain, and a recap of what they learned at the event.

Feedback from the students, teachers and public was overwhelmingly positive. Trick or Treatment won a Public Information and Education Award in the Educational Programs category from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

“The staff really had a lot of fun with the event,” says Flasch.  She continued, “In addition to fulfilling one of our external engagement goals, this event became a team builder for our plant staff. We will definitely keep it going and will continue the superhero theme.”   


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