High School Interns Learn Advanced Water Conservation

Jun 18, 2021, 7:15 PM | Updated: Jun 21, 2021, 12:01 am

SANDY, Utah — As Utahns wait for a good, drenching rainstorm, the Canyons School District is using students to help find more ways to conserve water.  

Five students will be working as “water manager” interns over the summer. 

It’s a six-year-old program that has already added up to big water savings for the district. 

“It just kind of like, made me more aware of how much we need to conserve,” said Jaron Tsao, one of the water manager interns who will be a senior in the fall at Hillcrest High School. 

That’s only one of the valuable lessons the interns will learn over the course of the program. 

KSL-TV caught up with three of them as they assessed the irrigation system at Altara Elementary School in Sandy. 

This summer, the interns will visit each of the 45 district campuses and walk the grounds. They will look for sprinkler heads that need to be fixed or adjusted on more than 370 acres of open space and playing fields district-wide. 

“We saw a few geysers and some sprinklers that weren’t able to output as much pressure as we wanted to. We will definitely want work orders for those,” said Jaron. 

Their goal?

Water management interns with Canyons School District check the irrigation system at Altara Elementary in Sandy. (KSL TV)

“To conserve as much water as possible, while still being able to provide for the fields,” said Asher Stewart, a water manager intern who will be a senior at Brighton High School in the fall. 

After the interns finish testing all of the irrigation stations at a given school, they go back and crunch the data and put together a report for the school district. They make recommendations on which sprinkler heads need to be repaired and how the system needs to be adjusted. They also made recommendations for areas that might be more efficient and water-wise without turf and they learned how to prioritize where are the water should be used. 

“The sports fields and the play areas for kids would be the priorities,” said Asher. “Less so in the parking lots.” 

The hands-on job makes the paid interns aware of how much water is wasted when a system is not well-tuned or well planned. 

“We find the places where (irrigation water) shouldn’t be. For example, near parking lots, like the grass near a parking lot — it’s just excess water wasted,” said Isaac Middlemas, a water manager intern who will be a senior at Hillcrest High School in the fall. 

Christopher Eppler, an energy engineer for the school district, created the program in 2015 in partnership with the Utah Water Conservancy District. 

The intern’s work has helped the district save as much as 20 million gallons of water each of the last six years. 

“It just zeros in on the issue of using water wisely,” Eppler said. “These smart controllers are like computers, so you have to put in good information so that it irrigates properly, and the students enable us to do that.” 

Eppler said the students start to understand the value of saving water for the schools and the community. 

“It kind of just taught me to be more aware of how I use my resources,” Isaac said. 

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