Metro Water District recognizes HCWA Public Outreach and Education
(McDonough, GA – July 20, 2016) The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District handed out their inaugural STREAM (Sustainable, Thoughtful, Regional, Engaged, Applicable, Measurable) Awards for public education this year, in an attempt to recognize the achievements of water utilities, authorities and local governments within the region.
The STREAM Awards were established in conjunction with the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the Metro Water District, held last month in Atlanta. These industry honors bring recognition to those members who have helped advance the goals of the Metro Water District as an advocate for clean, abundant water supply for the Atlanta region.
The Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) and its Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center won the STREAM Award for Education and Outreach Program Excellence, thanks to the work of the Cubihatcha Center to provide annual field trips for all Henry County third grade students.
The criteria used for judging applicants for the STREAM Award for Education and Outreach Program Excellence included: whether a project or program was sustainable over time, thoughtful in its intent, regional in its approach, engaging for target audiences, applicable to other utilities, in addition to the project or program’s measured success, such as number of participants in the program or people reached through the initiative.
Since 2003, the HCWA Cubihatcha Center has hosted approximately 3,000 “Cubihatcha Kids” each year, providing field trips and lessons in environmental education for these students, as organized by the Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership.
The HCWA, Henry County Board of Education, Henry County Board of Commissioners, and several other public and private partners, formed the non-profit Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership to provide public education programming for local citizens, especially students in Henry County public schools.
The Cubihatcha Center was built as a part of the HCWA wetlands mitigation plan to coincide with the construction of the Authority’s reservoir network. Wetlands mitigation is a water utility’s strategy to preserve green space and replace wetlands that might be impacted by development.
As a wetland enhancement and preservation corridor, Cubihatcha is appropriately named after the Native American term meaning: “land between the lakes,” since the facility is located between two of the five HCWA reservoirs with a third accessible by trail. Cubihatcha encompasses approximately 1,000 contiguous acres of bottomland, hardwood, and forest wetlands and uplands.
Aside from the limited clearing of trees for trails – and construction of 2,000 feet of raised wooden boardwalks, an educational center and reservoirs office, as well as several outdoor classrooms – the Cubihatcha property has been left in its natural state. The Center has two main walking trails approximately 10 miles in length, restrooms and parking.
In addition to preserving green space and buffers to protect HCWA reservoirs and water quality, Cubihatcha provides habitats for a variety of native plants and animals, with field evidence of many species of reptiles, amphibians, and insects on site.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.