Skip to content
Resources > Latest News > Nww ambassadors inspire students to become water conservation leaders

NWW ambassadors inspire students to become water conservation leaders

Raising water’s profile among children is a crucial step in ensuring a secure and sustainable water future. A recent in-school learning experience leaned into the power of sharing stories to inspire young minds to care about conserving water. 

Coinciding with National Water Week (NWW) last month, Sydney Water took the opportunity to design a program aimed at boosting water literacy among primary school–aged students and promoting water as a rewarding career path.

Delivering the program at St Aloysius Primary School, Cronulla, NWW Ambassadors from Sydney Water explored the Indigenous connection to water and explained the urban water cycle and the importance of water conservation, as well as the role of renewable energy in water treatment now and in future. 

Graduate Chemical Engineer Jessica Ren joined First Nations Community Education Officer Veronica Murphy, Community Education Senior Advisor Tracey Willingham, and Sydney Water Program Specialist and leak detection dog trainer Nicole Harvey.

Harvey said the program was motivated by this year’s NWW theme, Our Water Stories. 

“I am fairly new to the water sector. Five years ago, I would never have guessed that I’d one day be training dogs to help us find and conserve water. But I really enjoy the work that I do,” she said. 

“I wanted to take the opportunity to become a NWW Ambassador and share my water story because a lot of people might not think that a dog handler could have a role in the water industry.”

Harvey said St Aloysius was picked for the program after the school was named winner of the 2022 STEM MAD National Award for its students’ digital weather data and water conservation system.  

“We’re keen to get the next generation educated about water issues and we jumped at the opportunity to engage with a school to share our water stories and why we are all passionate about water,” she said. 

“We chose this school specifically because we were impressed with their engagement in science already. We knew they had a good understanding of the importance of water conservation and wanted to support the students in learning more.

“Young kids are fundamentally important for the future of our environment and water, conservation and sustainability. 

“Our role was really all about helping to keep the momentum going by getting the students interested in thinking more about the role they can play in the future of water.”

Engaging through education

Reflecting on the success of the day, Harvey said the variety of perspectives, stories and activities presented was key to creating an engaging and motivating program. 

“We purposefully came up with a program that covered different areas of importance for water conservation. And it was a great success. The variety was really well received. You know you’ve got a group of kids really engaged when they start asking and answering questions,” she said.

The program started with Veronica Murphy sharing the Indigenous connection to water, and the ambassadors were delighted to discover that some of the students already had a deep  understanding of Indigenous connection to water, too.

“There was a beautiful moment when Veronica was talking about the spiritual side of water. She had a musical instrument with paintings of the water spirit on it, and asked the students if they knew what the symbols meant,” Harvey said. 

“A young girl stood straight up and walked across the room to Veronica and explained her very accurate understanding of everything asked, and her own connection to water. They both lit up.”

With a background in primary school teaching, Willingham delivered the urban water cycle interactive activity, explaining where the water used in the students’ homes comes from and where it goes. 

“This activity was great in teaching kids about the water cycle, but it also helped to get them thinking about how much water they use, and the production of other sources of water, like recycled water and desalination,” Harvey said. 

Harvey said Ren’s presentation focused on her role in Sydney Water’s renewable energy team, and the importance of renewables within the water cycle moving forward. 

“By the time these students are 18 years old, they’ll be living in a different world. We spoke to them about the effects of global warming and how Sydney Water is committed to net zero by 2030,” she said. 

“A lot of companies are committing to net zero by 2030, and we explained to the kids that they will be the ones entering the workforce at that time and they will be crucial to making sure these efforts are sustained.”

Sniffing out water savings

Following these educational and thought-provoking aspects of the program, the students were invited to go outside and meet Harvey’s colleague, Joey the leak detection dog, one of Sydney Water’s specialist springer spaniels.

“I introduced the kids to Joey and explained how he helps us save water. We talked about how he smells leaks by detecting chlorine and fluoride, and how far down he can find leaks,” she said. 

“We took the students outside, where we had five pipes set up. We got the kids to pour some water through the pipes and got Joey to find it. The kids were so excited. There was even one girl who came up and told me that she wanted my job, which was amazing to hear.”

Harvey said the demonstration was very well received by the students, who even had the opportunity to see Joey find a real leak on the school grounds. 

“We had some bubblers a few meters behind us and the pipe going up to the bubblers was leaking. As soon as I finished talking to the kids, Joey yanked me right toward the bubblers to let me know about the leak. The kids thought it was so funny,” she said. 

“The kids were also very interested in how I train Joey, where he sleeps at night and what happens when he retires from his job.” 

Sharing water stories

Harvey said that while the students got a lot out of the program, designing and delivering the event was also hugely rewarding for the Sydney Water NWW Ambassadors involved, too. 

“All of us that went on the day reflected that we didn’t have these types of programs when we were at school. But having specialised water professionals go and talk to kids about careers in water is so important for our industry,” she said. 

“It was really rewarding to see that these young children are so enthusiastic about learning about water, but also about being involved in water conservation. 

“Aside from promoting National Water Week, being an Ambassador was also just a great opportunity to interact with other professionals from different areas of the sector. It’s a great way to share knowledge, stories and experiences.”