George Bartuska, a teacher at Kathleen High School’s Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA), was one of 40 local citizens to participate in the County’s semi-annual Water School held this spring. The graduation ceremony was held at the Neil Combee County Administration Building during a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners. This was the 8th year the semi-annual Water School was held in Polk County, and Bartuska’s 3rd year to attend.
The Water School provides elected officials, government officials, community leaders, engineers, teachers, and private citizens with factual information about Polk County’s water resources and to encourage improved public policy decision making relative to water issues throughout the county.
The 25 hour course held over a seven week period included classroom presentations at the Circle B-Bar Nature Reserve and a combination of local and out-of-county field trips. Attendees received instruction in water supply, water conservation, water distribution, water treatment, and updates on storm water runoff, recycle water, waste water, reclaimed water, and drinking standards. Local field trips included visits to a potable water treatment facility, a waste water treatment facility, and a wetlands area. The out-of-county field trip was to Charlotte Harbor and the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority facilities.
A new addition to this year’s program was a presentation by a group of CFAA students, under the direction of Science Teacher Ms. Lori Bradner. Students shared the details of a lake bed core sampling project and water quality project they have been performing with SWFWMD and CFAA’s sister school in Norway. Also new this year, was the opportunity to view the school via web-based live streaming video, or “webinar,” produced by Polk County Government Television (PGTV).
When asked what he brings back from this experience, Bartuska noted “the ability to stay in touch with current water resource engineering developments and changes in water quality and water quantity regulatory requirements. Also, the realization of how essential protecting and conserving Florida’s water resources are for future generations, and thus how important the exposure we provide students is during our Engineering Hydrology & Hydraulics, Earth-Space Science, and Environmental Science courses.”
The Water School is an educational effort of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services / Polk County Extension Division Service Natural Resources program, in partnership with several county divisions, municipal governments, community organizations, and the Southwest Water Management District (SWFWMD).
(Left to Right) Shannon McGee, Natural Resources Agent, Cooperative Extension Services – Coordinator; CFAA Engineering teacher, George Bartuska with certificate; Danny Kushmer, Community Affairs Manager – Southwest Florida Water Management District.