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Celebrating a critical element

This large puppet representing Lake Superior will be found in the UMD Kirby bus hub on Thursday when the Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe perform. (Submitted photo)

Chemists know it as dihydrogen monoxide; a person cannot live without it and the largest grouping of it that humans can use is right outside your door.

It’s water, and it’s being celebrated by University of Minnesota Duluth students all week with several campus activities centered on the importance of fresh water.

World Water Day is March 22, but UMD students are stretching the celebration of the world’s most abundant resource out for an entire week.

The festivities kick off Tuesday in the UMD Kirby Bus Hub, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first 50 visitors to win a water-bottle toss game will receive an “I drink SUPERIOR water” reusable aluminum bottle.

“We really do have ‘Superior’ water,” said Mindy Granley, of the UMD office of sustainability. “Last year, the city of Duluth won best drinking water in 2013.”

In fact, Duluth won the 2013 ‘Best in Glass’ drinking water taste test Wednesday during the MN American Water Works Association’s annual conference held at the DECC in September.

“Using a water bottle saves you money. Marketers make bottled water look more attractive, but it’s still water,” Granley said.

In order to show the students how much plastic is used in the creation of disposable water bottles, there will be an artistic display created from the plastic bottles collected from around UMD on Monday. By handing out reusable aluminum water bottles that label tap water as “Superior,” Granley says she hopes to see an increase in use.

“We want our students to know that it’s cool to drink tap water,” Granley said.

In the past two years, UMD has made other efforts to encourage drinking from reusable water bottles.

“We started bringing in bottle filling stations in all the campus buildings. Then last year, students pointed out that there should be a few in the residence halls. A couple of students worked on a grant worth 3,000 dollars to bring cold, fresh tap water to the housing area in filling stations,” Granley said.

While other campuses around the country have begun to ban disposable water bottles, Granley says that isn’t the best option.

“We’d rather focus on being positive and encourage our students to learn about water while still having fun,” Granley said.

One way they hope to do that is by inviting the Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe to perform in the Kirby bus hub on Thursday.

“We want to remind people of the glory and magic of water,” said Jim Ouray, leader of the troupe.

Ouray and his team of puppeteers will set up a large puppet representing Lake Superior and have their usual “smelt puppets” running around the waves. This display will also feature Neptune, the Roman god of water, who will share information about water with the audience.

“To me water is more precious than gold. It’s our most valuable resource,” Ouray said. “I’m personally concerned with the mining projects around the area and the effects they could bring to

our water.”

Ouray is not alone in his concern in water issues. In fact, that’s why the League of Women Voters will be coming to campus on Tuesday to help students register to vote.

“Learning about the water issues and plastics is great, but we need to make sure that students can vote on these issues. They need to know that you can have a say in these issues,” Granley said.

To meld the connection between plastics and water use, a film called “Bag it” (a film about the amount of plastic used in everyday goods) will be shown Wednesday at the College of St. Scholastica at 7 p.m. A talk about recycling titled ”What Do I Do With This Stuff? A Guide to Putting Waste In The Right Place”, by AJ Axtell, environmental program coordinator at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, will be given Tuesday at 2 p.m. Finally, on Thursday, Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, a chemistry professor at University of Wisconsin Superior will give a talk titled “Microplastics in the Great Lakes: is it an issue?” in UMD Library Rotunda 4th floor at 4:00 p.m.

Mendoza recently showcased her Great Lakes plastics research at the American Chemical Society national conference in Dallas.

World Water Week Events

All events below are free open to the public

Tuesday, March 25 in UMD Kirby Bus Hub, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The first 50 visitors to win a water-bottle toss game will receive an “I drink SUPERIOR water” reusable aluminum bottle.

Tabling in Kirby Bus Hub regarding water, plastic bottles, and recycling awareness.

League of Women Voters will also be registering voters at the various campuses.

Tuesday, March 25 in UMD Library Rotunda (4th floor), 2 - 3 p.m.

”What Do I Do With This Stuff? A Guide to Putting Waste In The Right Place”, by AJ Axtell, Environmental Program Coordinator at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District

Wednesday, March 26, College of St. Scholastica Science Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

Bag It: film showing. Refreshments to follow.

Thursday, March 27 in UMD Kirby Bus Hub, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

The Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe will perform with an unique Lake Superior puppet from Duluth’s annual Smelt Festival Parade

Thursday, in UMD Library Rotunda 4th floor, at UMD, 4:00 p.m.

Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, UWS Chemistry professor will give a talk titled Microplastics in the Great Lakes: is it an issue?

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176
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