Cleaning up streams is one of the suggestions from finalists in the KidsPost/Nature Conservancy contest on how to keep drinking water safe. (Bigstock)

KidsPost readers never fail to come up with good ideas. Our call asking what kids have done or will do to keep our drinking water clean was no exception.

We had nearly 200 entries from kids in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, and a panel of judges from KidsPost and the Nature Conservancy selected four finalists.

“We were so inspired by the many entries that included creative and committed suggestions,” said Stephanie Flack, Potomac River project director for the Nature Conservancy. “We were impressed by the kids’ terrific ideas of what they, their families and their friends can do to keep water clean.”

The finalists and their families will be treated to a picnic and hike at the Potomac Gorge with a Nature Conservancy scientist. A winner will be chosen from among the finalists and will receive KidsPost goodies and a behind-the-scenes tour at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

We have included some of the finalists’ thoughts on keeping drinking water clean. You might try one or more of these ideas in your home or school, because every drop counts.

I would encourage my family, friends and community to take shorter showers, turn the faucet off when they aren’t using it, like when brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. . . . You would be amazed how much water and money you could save by turning the faucet off or even minimizing the time you use it.

Another action I would take is to start a program at school to participate in cleaning up streams. We could even adopt a stream to clean up. This will keep all of the trash out of the water that may pollute and harm the animals. We could also plant vegetation along the stream banks. Doing this would stabilize the bank and help prevent erosion, reduce sediment, filter runoff and create wildlife habitat.

My last idea is that I would encourage people to never pour chemicals down the sink or flush them down the toilet. Some of the chemicals might be hazardous to the environment. They shouldn’t end up in the city’s waste disposal department. . . . You should also dispose of your trash and waste of all kind properly.

Don’t think about it as doing nature a favor but yourself a favor, because water is reused and I’m sure you don’t want to drink contaminated, unhealthy water.

Madelyne Cabico, 13


Whenever you want to change the world around you, the best thing to do is to look at the world around you. One of the problems I see is the pollution of our water supply because of the improper disposal of chemicals, paints and medicines. There are many things that I do that you can do too! You can try to remind your friends and family to dispose of chemicals safely. Why not make a game of it? See who in your family can find the largest amount of unused products to recycle, then go as a family to the nearest transfer station to deposit them.

If everyone did their part our water would be so much cleaner. A lot of people do not realize how lucky we are to have clean water. Many of the young people in my generation do not fully appreciate that many people in other countries cannot turn on a tap and instantly have fresh, clean water. This needs to change. So look at yourself and others around you, and see what you can do to make change happen!

Lily Bernero, 11


Well water is the most common source of drinking water where I live, so I have learned some creative ways to help keep our groundwater clean.

My family always uses organic, NEVER chemical, fertilizers for our yard. We apply vinegar to small areas and rubber mulch/wood chips for larger beds. It is more work than spraying chemicals that kill weeds within a couple of hours, but by going organic, we keep our groundwater and our consciences clean.

I always pick up after my dog, because his poo can leach toxins into the soil, which could add poisons to our groundwater. Animal waste is harmful to the long-term health of our groundwater. In a two-for-one green deal, instead of wasting plastic, I reuse the bag in which our daily newspaper is wrapped to pick up Sparky’s poo. It works really well, because it is the length of my arm and acts as a glove for this “big job”!

We keep a pasta pot in the kitchen sink to collect water from hand-washing and rinsing dishes, which we then use to water our indoor plants. Our lush green plants seem to approve.

Sidharth Muralidhar, 13

Great Falls

From a very young age, I was fascinated with water. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor pouring water back and forth into different containers. My mom said I could drink that water but not the water from the fish pond. “Why?” I wondered.

As I grew older, I became a Girl Scout. We studied water conservation. Our service project was to encourage people to save water. We created signs to hang over every sink in the church to help them think about the amount of water they used. We also went to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and took samples of the water to see how clean it was. Not clean enough to drink, they told me. I felt like a scientist, and still wanted to know why.

My pen pal in Mozambique has to walk to the river to fetch water for her village. I want to write and ask her how they keep their water clean. We can learn from people all over the world and help each other.

My mom told me putting chemicals into the ground can hurt our water. My scientist self will keep learning so I can teach others about keeping our water clean.

Ryanne Barstow, 8