‘Pirates’ show groundwater’s ‘gold’

Look and see how learning about water is fun at the annual ‘Aquifer Adventure’, again held in outer East Portland …

Kids who complete gather a magic bead from each station during their ‘Aquifer Adventure’, held in the Wilkes neighborhood, are rewarded with booty from Columbia Slough Watershed Council AmeriCorps member Grace “Pirate Girl” Graham and Portland Water Bureau Resource Planning Director, Edward “Smiling Beaver” Campbell.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The annual late-summer event attracting families from all over the region to the Portland Water Bureau’s (PWB) Columbia Slough Boat Ramp along NE Airport Way, this year took place on September 15th.

“Groundwater – that is, drinking water that comes from our wells, instead of from Bull Run reservoirs – has been especially important this year because it’s been a very dry summer, and that put our wells into use on June 19,” remarked PWB Ground Water Protection Program Manager “Dastardly Doug” Wise, who was that day proudly going by his assigned “pirate moniker”.

Some “pirates” leading attending families on adventures are Jamie “Squid-lips Lou” Stamberger, interim Executive Director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council; their outreach and events director, Suzanne “Slack Jaw Suzy” Raymond; PWB Ground Water Protection Program Manager “Dastardly Doug” Wise; and PWB Source Protection Specialist Anna “Rusty Fishook” Buckley.

In fact, the PWB didn’t start ramping down pumping from the Columbia South Shore Well Field, which is situated in the far northeast part of outer East Portland, until October 17.

The Water Bureau isn’t sucking water out of the Columbia River with these wells, Wise assured. “The Well Field is a network of 12 active water supply wells in three different groundwater aquifers; with the shallowest one being a little over 60 feet, and the deepest about 600 feet.

Directly behind these people learning about groundwater under a canopy is Well #9, pumping drinking water from one of the city’s deepest aquifers.

“From these wells, we can get from 90 to 100 million gallons per day for a short period of time, and sustainably, from 72 to 80 million gallons a day – which is what we did over the over the summer,” Wise told East Portland News.

“At our annual pirate-themed Aquifer Adventure event, put on by our partners with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, we’re really reinforcing the importance of groundwater – helping people understand the value of our groundwater, and most importantly, how we protect it,” Wise explained.

“Got Water?” is the question asked at the emergency preparedness booth.

Kadra Pixton and her girls get a delicious lesson about groundwater, as they dig into their “Edible Aquifer” treats.

Disguised as fun activities, the learning stations include the “Groundwater Obstacle Course” that shows how water gets into the aquifers, “The Long Haul” gives folks an idea of how much water is used taking a shower, and the “Making an Eatable Aquifer” provides a tasty lesson about protecting the water below ground.

With two pirates in the back of these dual-rigged canoes, families take off for an adventure in the Columbia Sough.

But finally, perhaps the favorite and most exciting adventure was taking a canoe ride, exploring the Columbia Slough, captained by – you guessed it – pirates.

“Protecting water – pollution protection – means being safe when using household hazardous materials, not over-applying pesticides, and looking out for spills and reporting them. And please, don’t dump your used engine oil or other chemicals onto the ground,” implored Wise.

To learn more about Portland’s Groundwater Protection Program, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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