Allocating Our Water

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School:  McKim Elementary

Water, water everywhere! Or, is it?

The water unit of Beyond Recycling has some of the most fun, interactive lessons. Students at McKim Middle School have been learning about the challenges of water around the world. After learning about the concept of sustainability and trying their hand managing their own resources during the Fishing for Sustainability game, the grade 5/6s got explore access to water in different places.

We started by discussing how we use water in our community and in our homes. We learned that in the community, 70% goes to agriculture, 19% to industry, and 11% to domestic (home) use. Within the home, we learned that most of our water – an astounding 70% – is used in the smallest room of the house, the bathroom. We also looked at water use around the world, noticing that here in British Columbia, we use much, much more water per person on an average day than people in other places. Student were especially surprised to see we use twice as much water as people in New York City.

Diving into the Our Water activity has the students try out two scenarios: water scarcity, where they didn’t have enough water to meet all their needs; and economic water scarcity, where there was sufficient clean water, but it was unavailable for some reason (ex. war, political unrest, lack of money for wells) but plenty of dirty water far away. In a short period of time, each group had to decide how they would allocate their available water and discuss the implications of those choices. It’s not as easy as it looks.