This May, in celebration of Water Awareness Month, the Orange County Water District (OCWD), the Blue Planet Foundation, the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team and the Disneyland Resort hosted the Sixth Annual Children's Water Education Festival. The award-winning event hosted more than 6,000 third- and fourth-graders and more than 800 teachers and parents from throughout Orange County. The two-day education event taught students about Orange County's environment, wildlife and water in a fun, interactive, hands-on setting.

"The facts and concepts that the children learn at this festival, I am convinced, will be with them longer than anything they read in a book. When children learn in a hands-on way, it is much, much more powerful," Delaine Eastin, California State Superintendent for Public Instruction, said.

The theme of this year's Festival was "From Sea to Shining Sea: Protect and Conserve Our Water," and the event educated a record number of students and teachers. During the Festival, students and teachers participated in more than 80 interactive, hands-on educational demonstrations and activities, including games involving kids being encased in giant bubbles, live sea animals, an obstacle course based on the popular reality television show Survivor, and making edible aquifers out of ice cream and clear soda pop. Together with some of the area's leading environmental education specialists, students explored the water cycle and discovered that water is a finite, irreplaceable, but recyclable resource. They also learned about sources of water pollution and how they can protect the ocean.

During the second day of the Festival, a VIP event called the Expedition was held for Festival supporters to experience the magic of the Festival. The Expedition included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Festival activities in addition to a luncheon. Superintendent Eastin -- a strong supporter of environment-based education -- delivered the keynote speech. Eastin briefed the group on a comprehensive, strategic state plan aimed at linking education and the environment.

Nearly 100 sponsors and other event supporters were in attendance, including representatives from state legislative offices, city councils and other government agencies and Orange County businesses.

The Festival has won five prestigious awards for educational value through its interactive, hands-on activities. They are:

  • Public Education Award, California Water Environment Association, statewide

  • Public Education Award, California Water Environment Association, Santa Ana River Basin

  • Water Efficiency Award in the "schools" category, California Water Awareness Campaign

  • Orange County Environmental Award in the "government" category

  • Claire A. Hill Award in the "innovations" category, finalist

The Orange County Water District is a special water agency created by the California Legislature in l933 to maintain and manage the huge ground water basin under northern Orange County. The ground water basin managed by OCWD supplies 75 percent of the water needs to more than 2 million residents. Visit for more information.