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HEI Volunteers at Waterfest

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HEI Volunteers at Waterfest

Drew showing the students about water quality at Waterfest.=

Greg Bowles, Drew Kessler, and Laura Kaihoi from our Maple Grove office represented HEI at Sauk River Watershed District's Waterfest held September 28-29 at Millstream Park in St. Joseph, MN. At Waterfest, they engaged local fourth graders and gave them a perspective on the natural world around them that went beyond the classroom, educating students about the dangers of invasive species and the value of different water filters. 

Paring down the technical aspects, HEI's staff talked about how water filters (rain gardens, iron-enhanced sand filters, and bioreactors) worked to clean water before it reached our water supply and what they could do to keep their local water resources clean.

Different water filters at HEI's demonstration table at Waterfest

The students were split into groups to build five different filters: carbon, rock, soil, sand, and woodchip. They then made their prediction of which filter would do the best job of cleaning the dirty water. To the students' surprise, they found the sand and woodchip filters often performed the best out of the five. The students assumed the carbon would do the best after some discussion because carbon is used in Brita® filters and faucets. 

Chris showing students the results from the different water filters

While the water was filtering, HEI's staff discussed invasive species. They taught students what invasive species are, how they threaten our water supplies, and how we can prevent them from spreading. The three species shown were curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, and zebra mussels. HEI's staff also performed a demonstration of the AquaHunter app, which is currently being developed by HEI to help track invasive species.

AquaHunter app on mobile devices

HEI's staff walked through the AquaHunter app, explaining how it can help anyone with a smartphone or tablet identify and locate invasive species. The app helps others learn where certain invasive species are so they can show greater caution and help prevent the spread of invasive species. The app will be available for download next spring. 

HEI's staff had a great time educating our local youth on the importance of water quality during this event. "It was great to see so many kids outdoors, getting a hands on exciting experience on water issues facing Minnesota," said Drew. "The Sauk River Watershed District staff are running an exceptional event!"