Evanston launches expanded National Drinking Water Week celebration

Ian Torrisi (left) and Ayah Sol Hall (right) participate in National Drinking Water Week by demonstrating water tension in an after-school activity. The event was held Monday at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.

Source: Claire Alden

Ian Torrisi (left) and Ayah Sol Hall (right) participate in National Drinking Water Week by demonstrating water tension in an after-school activity. The event was held Monday at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.

Edward Cox, Assistant City Editor

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Evanston residents kicked off National Drinking Water Week on Sunday by paddling canoes into the sunset and admiring the city’s flora and fauna at the canal near the Evanston Ecology Center.

The city’s second annual celebration of the nationally observed week features an expanded activity list with water education events hosted at new locations, such as water sports at the Chandler-Newberger Center, 1028 Central St., and a water trivia contest at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave. The Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., also added a photo contest for middle school and high school students in addition to a 3rd grade coloring contest it started last year.

“The purpose is to raise awareness about tap water, where it comes from and the people that provide it,” said Lara Biggs, an employee with the city’s public works department, of National Drinking Water Week.

Evanston pumps and filters Lake Michigan water, which flows through pipes leading to home faucets in the city and surrounding suburbs. Evanston’s water quality laboratory received perfect scores this spring in a state water quality audit for the fourth year in a row.

But safe drinking water does not come free, said EPL librarian Lesley Williams, who sat on the committee organizing the weeklong water education events.

“We really don’t think about water a great deal,” Williams said. “We’re very fortunate, but there are costs to maintaining a safe water supply.”

On Tuesday evening, the library will show a documentary called “Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure” about the nation’s aging water infrastructure, accompanied by a presentation by Debra Shore, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The ecology center, 2024 McCormick Blvd., is also hosting free water activities for students after school throughout the week. For example, children can experiment with water by seeing how many drops of it a penny can hold.

“We’re always trying to find ways to educate communities about this important environmental topic,” said Claire Alden, the ecology center’s program manager.

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said she wants residents to realize the value of water through National Drinking Water Week.

“I’m hoping its going to be really successful in educating them about what good water they have,” Holmes said.

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