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Dan Masnada and Jay Thomas: High school students help ensure every drop counts

SCV Voices

Posted: April 3, 2010 11:01 p.m.
Updated: April 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Every drop counts.

It's simple. It's direct. It communicates an important message, effectively, about the importance of using water efficiently. And this simple, effective message is the rallying cry of a conservation campaign created by two Saugus High School juniors, twins Alex and Todd Davis.

The Davis brothers, both of whom work in the employee services office at Six Flags Magic Mountain, are asking us all to make every drop of water count, at home and at work, to help our valley - and California - use this precious resource wisely.

The boys' campaign is the product of their winning entry into Castaic Lake Water Agency's 2009-2010 Water Challenge, a service learning program in which local high school students competed for scholarships by designing and implementing water-related projects pertaining to the SCV. The program received numerous outstanding entries from students at several local high schools, and there were 17 semifinalists in the competition.

The Davis brothers focused their efforts on Magic Mountain, as a major local employer, water-user and also a business that has a great deal of contact with the public, which positions it as an ideal place for guests to receive information about water conservation.
We couldn't be more proud.

Not only have Alex and Todd come up with great ideas on how to conserve water, they have shown how intelligent and savvy the next generation's leaders will be when it comes to communication and problem-solving.

From the time they approached Six Flags management with their water conservation ideas in October through their oral presentation to CLWA in February, Alex and Todd displayed not only an intelligent, broad view of California's water challenges and how water conservation can help address them, but also an ability to communicate effectively and a high comfort level with communicating their ideas to adults in positions of authority.

Their confidence, initiative and professionalism will serve them well as they continue their education and move into the working world.

"We have challenged Six Flags Magic Mountain to propose water-conservation ideas and education that can not only be implemented inside the park for employees and guests, but something that can be taken with them into their homes as well," Todd Davis said as he and his brother prepared to summarize the major points of their "Every Drop Counts" campaign during a presentation at CLWA headquarters.

Those points included:
* A summary of their discussions with Don Golding, the Magic Mountain landscape foreman who provided information about the park's efforts to use water wisely in its landscaping, including the use of drought-tolerant native plants and the pending installation of new high-tech, water-efficient irrigation systems. 

* The creation of a slideshow that will be displayed on television monitors in the Magic Mountain employee cafeteria, where employees will see water efficiency tips during their meal breaks.

* The creation of six different "table toppers" to be placed in Magic Mountain's restaurants starting on Earth Day (April 22). The table toppers will provide guests with user-friendly, water-saving tips and reminders about how important it is to manage this resource wisely. As the Davis brothers pointed out in their presentation, this seizes the opportunity to communicate with thousands of park guests on any given day.

* The use of employee time-slips and a message board to communicate messages on efficient water use. On Earth Day, Alex and Todd have arranged for educational water-use pamphlets and advice to be provided to Magic Mountain employees.

* The posting of their water-use PowerPoint presentations and information on the company's intranet site, which is an Internet site accessible only to employees.

* A "big-ticket" item - the planned draining of the "4,000 Lake," on the west end of the Magic Mountain property. "This is a great step in water conservation as it will help Six Flags save over 1 million gallons of water a year," Alex and Todd reported. "That is enough water to sustain roughly 25 people for a year."

When the 4,000 Lake is drained - probably in 2011 - Six Flags is making plans to install drought-tolerant landscaping.

The tips Alex and Todd have provided also recognize the importance of making water use savings "relatable" to the audience, using simple and impactful messages rather than merely talking about water use efficiency as a concept. For example, in one of their graphics they point out that running one's dishwasher only when it is loaded to maximum capacity can save enough water to buy 15 gallons of gasoline per year.

That hits you square in the pocketbook, doesn't it?

As a result of their entry in the Water Challenge, Alex and Todd have not only won a scholarship, but also have been invited to join Magic Mountain's Go Green Committee, which will enable them to play an ongoing role in helping Magic Mountain continue its efforts to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Further, efforts are under way to carry the Davis brothers' water-wise advocacy to the corporate level with Six Flags, the world's largest regional theme park company with 19 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Alex Davis said educational programs like the Water Challenge better prepare younger generations to tackle the major issues that lie ahead.

"It's where every great idea starts, with educating tomorrow's future," Alex said. "This is a project that will continue even after the completion of this competition. And through Magic Mountain's partnership with us as well and their continuing hard work, we will continue to make every drop count here in the Santa Clarita Valley."

It has been especially gratifying to both CLWA and Six Flags management to see outstanding young people, like the Davis brothers, take an interest in promoting wise use of our valuable water resources, and taking actions to help others adopt an ethic of efficient water use. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding students, and remember the message Alex and Todd Davis are delivering:

Every. Drop. Counts.

Dan Masnada is general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency. Jay Thomas is president of Six Flags Magic Mountain. Their column reflects their own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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