Celebrating the Wonders of Water at Water Discovery Day

May 18, 2017

Did you know that a family of four uses about 150,000 gallons of water each year? Or that the spotted salamander and eastern box turtle are both bioindicators that can help scientists gauge the health of our local waterways?

These were just a few of the surprising facts several hundred attendees learned at AlexRenew’s Water Discovery Day on Saturday, May 6. 

Shortly after the event kicked off, AlexRenew’s Environmental Center was flooded with families whose children were darting back and forth between the center’s interactive exhibits and fish tank, learning about their role in Alexandria’s water cycle. 


Even though we all need and use water every day, the urban water cycle remains a mystery for many of us. Water Discovery Day was an opportunity to deepen personal connections with our local waterways. The event shed light on where our water comes from, what happens to water after it’s used, and why clean water is vital for our community and a healthy environment.    

With fun ranging from boat building to water coloring to a water-themed dance class, Water Discovery Day featured a variety of activities hosted by AlexRenew and our community partners for attendees young and old. Alexandria’s Mobile Art Lab even gave attendees the chance to screen print their own Water Discovery Day shirt and poster.

The Alexandria Sheriff’s Department hosted a SafeAssured Child ID workshop, providing parents with a free identification kit for their children. The Alexandria Fire Department also was on site with fire safety tips, and much to the excitement of all the children, firetruck tours!

At the City of Alexandria’s rain barrel making workshop, participants drilled holes and even climbed inside barrels to install a spigot. They’ll use the barrels to harvest rain from their roofs and water their gardens this summer – excited to be part of the solution to water pollution and local flooding in Alexandria. 

In the Discovery Lab, attendees were surprised by how microbes use their pollution cleaning power to help AlexRenew transform dirty water. Using a television microscope, AlexRenew lab technicians Christine Harkleroad and Jasmine Silas showed visitors live footage of hungry bacteria feeding on nutrients, prompting questions like “how much do they eat?” and “how do they capture their food?” from young “Water Discoverers.”

More than forty attendees donned hardhats for a tour of AlexRenew’s facility. The tour began where dirty water enters the plant and ended where we release clean and safe water back out into our local waterways. Seeing it get a little cleaner at each stage brought to life all that goes into cleaning wastewater. 

While most attendees were new to AlexRenew’s operations, many of our own employees took Water Discovery Day as a chance to show their families more about their work. Our Mascot Moxie was also there to share her water wisdom with our younger visitors. 

We’d like to thank those who dropped by, along with all the volunteers, sponsors, and community partners who made the event a success. We all impact the health of our local waterways, and together we can make a difference! 

Community partners for this event included Alexandria Fire Department, Alexandria Police Foundation, Alexandria Sheriff's Department, the City of Alexandria, Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center, Virginia American Water, Counseling of Alexandria, Mobile Art Lab, Local Motion Project, Living Legends of Alexandria, Virginia Tech Cooperative Master Gardeners, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Northern Virginia Urban League, and Alexandria Archeology Museum. 

Sponsors included CH2M, Greeley and Hansen, and Brown and Caldwell.

Check out our Flickr photo album to relive the Water Discovery Day fun!