By Amy Falkofske
On the surface, the Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) may just be the company that provides the water you drink, shower with and water your garden with, but go behind the scenes and you’re likely to be fascinated by what you find. You can do just that with the PWCSA’s Water Academy.
“It is a behind-the-scenes look at the Service Authority, which is the water company for about 350,000 residents in Prince William County,” said Kathy Bentz, deputy director of communications for PWCSA. “During the program, we provide tours, lead hands-on activities and then offer conversations with our
leadership team,” she said.
One week, participants will tour the H.L. Mooney Advance Water Reclamation Facility in Woodbridge, the laboratory facilities and the Education Center. Another week, they learn about the field operations, including 2,300 miles of pipe and nearly 12,000 fire hydrants. In the third session, participants will meet with the operators of PWCSA’s field vehicles, including their heavyduty vehicles, their laboratory vehicles and their AquaVan as a part of Trucks at Work. Finally, participants will visit PWCSA’s administrative building and learn practical things like how to read your water bill and how to understand how your water meter is
read. They’ll also get to go inside one of the elevated water tanks.
Alumni of the Water Academy include school teachers, local business owners, representatives of homeowners’ associations, environmental professionals, college students and retirees. Bentz said, “Anybody who has an interest in learning more about the Service Authority or about their local water resources can participate.”
Jeanne Jabara is an alumna who is an energy education coordinator with Prince William County Schools.
“I would recommend [the Water Academy]to anyone who wants to learn about the water resources they use. You get to meet the people, the processes, the chemistry and engineering technology that are the water and wastewater cycle,” said Jabara.
Bonnie Gray, environmental recreation specialist with PWC Parks, Recreation & Tourism also completed the program. She says the Water Academy helped her become a better steward of her water.
“When you know where your water is coming from, what is has to go through to get to you and where it is going once it leaves you, you cannot help but think a little more about how you can be a better steward,” said Gray.
Of the Water Academy’s mission, Bentz said, “One goal is certainly to educate our community about the Service Authority and how it provides their drinking water and treats their waste water, but secondly, it’s to help them understand the important role that water plays in our daily lives.”
This year’s Water Academy will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on June 17 and 24 and July 8 and 15. Applications are available now at pwca.org/water_academy. You can also call Kathy Bentz for information at 703-335-8944, or email [email protected].
Amy Falkfoske is a freelance writer and photographer. She has a Master’s in Film-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs.