Rexburg is the national winner of The Wyland National Mayor Challenge for Water Conservation.
“This is a beautiful state, you can see water is the lifeblood of Idaho, you can see it in the Snake River, you can see it in all the beautiful lakes. This resource is very precious, it’s not guaranteed, that we have a steady reliable supply of it, so if we don’t take care of it now, as populations grow, as demands for it grows, we’re not going to have easy access to it in the future,” said president of the Wyland Foundation, Steve Creech.
Madison Middle School students rejoiced as they were presented with a new Toyota Highlander from The Wyland Foundation for Madison County’s D.A.R.E Program. When the city entered the challenge, they selected an organization to receive the car if they won.
Along with the car, other prizes were given to Rexburg residents, one lucky winner that hasn’t been announced yet will win free utilities for a year.
“We’ve become a water neutral company, so we literally invest thousands and thousands of dollars in various that keep our waterways clean, so it’s natural for us to get involved with The Wyland Foundation,” said Earth Friendly Product’s, Vivian Panou.
Over 3,000 cities across the nation participated in The Wyland Foundation’s National Mayor Challenge for Water Conservation, and Rexburg was number one.
It all began last year with Mrs. Barton’s fourth-grade class studying about water conservation and encouraging the community to take water pledges.
“Projects like this really empower students to realize that they really are tomorrows planetary stewards,” said Sharee Barton.
“(They) told us that Rexburg was a desert, and we all were kind of just surprised by that, we didn’t really consider it a desert, and we kind of just researched it, and we grew interested in the water conservation idea,” said Madison Middle School student, Kaleb Andreasen.
Water pledges from the entire community contributed to Rexburg’s win, but it all began with the efforts of a fourth-grade class.
“The thing that makes this even better is the fact that the students did this themselves,” said Rexburg Police Officer and D.A.R.E Program instructor, Shawn Scott.
The water conservation pledges that were made online didn’t stay on there, they actually made their way into the lives of community members who changed their water usage habits.
“My public works director just informed me that our water usage in Rexburg is down a hundred and twelve acre-feet this year over what it was last year, so we’re really excited about that,” said Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill.
Although each student didn’t win a car personally, the lesson they’ve learned about the importance of water conservation will stay with them forever.
“Just realizing how much water that I use on a daily basis, before it was kind of ‘oh I need water, turn it on, I need it soon, so I’ll just leave it on’, but I realized, it takes a lot of water, and so I’ve just been trying to shorten my showers and encourage my little sisters to turn off the tap and stuff like that,” said Andreasen.