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Shane Jacobson talks the talk on water during a school visit for National Water Week

(L-R) Ben Sedrak, Jean-Paul Boutros, Shane Jacobson, Menuk Gunawardena, Michael Nasr and George Jasser 
Credit: Sydney Water

Lucky students from the Parramatta Marist High School were treated to a fun presentation of water facts and dispelling myths from Shane Jacobson, water advocate, actor, director, writer, and comedian, best known as the "Dunny Man" courtesy of Sydney Water.

National Water Week provides registered schools with the chance to connect with water ambassadors, showcasing invaluable information on water careers, sustainability and more with students and faculty.

Credit: Sydney Water

Students from the Parramatta Marist High School were this week put to the test on various facts and myths from local Australian actor, comedian, creative and passionate water advocate Shane Jacobson.

Look familiar? Jacobson is best known as the "Dunny Man" for his performances as the eponymous character Kenny Smyth, a plumber working for a portable toilet rental company, in the 2006 film Kenny and the spin-off TV series, Kenny's World.

“I’m here to talk about water” boomed Jacobson with his trademark friendly, sincere and loud demeanour.

Students were reminded of Jacobson's famous character 'Kenny' and his work with Sydney Water as the ambassador for their highly successful 2021 water conservation campaign. Jacobson provided facts for students, inviting them to be part of the solution with his quick facts including;

  • We are very reliant on rainfall
  • Australia is a coastal nation
  • 87% of Australia’s population lives within 50km of the coast
  • Our city is growing
  • Our climate Is changing
  • We live on the driest, inhabited continent on Earth

Credit: Sydney Water

What do you know about water?

Students were tasked to partake in a live quiz focused on Sydney Water and the cost of removing fatbergs, the service area of Sydney Water and more with surprising results. He also showcased the importance of which items can and cannot go into a toilet with options including:

  1. Cotton products;
  2. Tissues;
  3. Toilet paper; and
  4. Wet wipes

Credit: Sydney Water

Students were surprised to see that although wet wipes can sometimes be marketed as flushable, they can in fact clog up the wastewater system, similar to tissues and cotton products. A demonstration of these items in tubs of water provided clarity as toilet paper essentially dissolved after 10 minutes while the other items did not.

"The future of water is here in this room and it’s you. We are aiming to build ambassadors for water and we hope it’s you." - Jacobson said.

Students also learned about;

  • Purified Recycled Water (PRW) and how it needs to meet strict Australian Guidelines to supplement drinking water sources, noted to be some of the strictest worldwide;
  • Desalination and how it's made for fresh clean drinking water from seawater. Sydney Desalination Plant uses reverse osmosis technology to achieve this function; and
  • Dams (store rainwater) with Warragamba Dam being Sydney's largest water supply dam. Lake Burragong, which is formed behind the dam, holds four times the volume as Sydney Harbour!

The quiz continued with revelations on how:

  • Sydney Water provides 1.5 Billion litres of quality drinking water daily.
  • The shower uses the most water in the home on a daily basis.
  • In the 2017-2020 drought, dam storage levels dropped 50% in 2.5 years.
  • Between 2015-2022, the proportion of the worlds population with access to safe drinking water increased from 69% - 73%.
  • In 2017, a 250 metre long fatberg clogged up a sewer in London (as heavy as 11 double decker buses).
  • It costs Sydney Water $15,000,000 each year to remove fatbergs from pipes, a result of flushing away wet wipes and other material that block wastewater piping.

Credit: Sydney Water

The Future of Water

Jacobson finished by thanking attendees with a call to action to look towards Sydney Water as a career option across digital and analytics, engineering, environmental science, education, communications ,marketing and business, finance and human resources.

Students were thrilled with the presentation by Jacobson and Sydney Water with select students outlining that they learned a lot from the presentation and were eager to work in the water industry in the future.

You can connect your school with a water ambassador by registering here

Credit: Sydney Water