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Water for Life event at Newport on the Levee is fun for industry professionals, general public

By Mike Rutledge
NKyTribune contributor

About 1,500 water professionals will be in Northern Kentucky from Sunday through Wednesday, and the general public is invited to have some water fun Sunday afternoon at Newport on the Levee.

Most of the water professionals themselves will be getting ready for the 2015 Kentucky-Tennessee Water Professionals Conference to learn about water and sewage issues and network with colleagues at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

Starting last year in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the annual conference began splashing some fun for the public in the region served by the conventions. The goal is to provide enjoyable ways to learn about water and water-quality issues, says Valerie Lucas, executive director of the Kentucky-Tennessee Water Environment Association, which deals with sewage-water issues.

“Our young-professional group was very motivated to do something that encouraged the public to know what they do, and so they organized that event and had it downtown, close to the aquarium in Chattanooga,” Lucas said. “We did it on a Sunday afternoon and had 400 kids come through.”

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to bring this to Northern Kentucky,” said Lori Simpson of the Northern Kentucky Water District. “This has been a year in the making, so we’re excited to have it unfold this weekend.”

They hope for similar success for this year’s Water for Life event, in the shadow of the Newport Aquarium, along Riverboat Row. The 2-5 p.m. Sunday event will include an inflatable slide, a water-tasting competition, food, games, more than 20 educational booths, and a water-tasting competition involving water from various communities in the two states.

There also will be a giant aquarium provided by the Cincinnati-based clean-water organization, ORSANCO, displaying fish that were captured nearby in the Ohio River. Many people express surprise when they look at the variety of beautiful fish species that came from the river. The fish will return to the river afterward.

The water tasting “is fun, to see the tap water from different communities, and how they taste different,” Lucas said. “I participated last year, and I was shocked how different they taste. They’re all good, but you can definitely tell a difference.”


“I can’t tell you how excited we are to bring this to Northern Kentucky,” said Lori Simpson of the Northern Kentucky Water District, one of the Water for Life organizers. “This has been a year in the making, so we’re excited to have it unfold this weekend.”

Public education about water quality is important because water is critical to life, and also because with mounting requirements for cleaning up area waterways, customers are increasingly being required to pay higher rates for both their water and sewage-treatment costs, both locally and nationwide.

The Northern Kentucky Water District and Sanitation District No. 1 are utility hosts, and each will offer tours – not open to the general public – for water and sewer professionals of some of their facilities.

The water district will give tours of its Fort Thomas Water Treatment Plant, mostly of interest to smaller utilities that will be interested to see how the water district upgraded its facilities to meet new and upcoming water regulations. Sanitation District No. 1 will offer tours to the conference of its Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Villa Hills.

Another event that takes place Monday, which is open to the media but not the general public, is a competition among water-distribution crews that will race to tap into pressurized cement-and-iron pipes, as the crews often must do out in the field, including during the winter.

Water district

The winning team from the Northern Kentucky event will win a trip to the national conference, to compete there.

“It’s a pressurized pipe. It will have water flowing through it,” Lucas said. “They tap it, and if they don’t get it on there fast, they’re going to get water everywhere. It’s fun to watch.”

Also on Monday, but only open for the media, is the Best of the Best competition, among the communities with the most popular water in taste tests.

Most of the conference focuses on more serious water and sewage issues and includes more than 100 education sessions for the water professionals.

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