by Aubrey Ann Parker
Did you know that the average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, with 60 percent being used outside to water our lawns and wash our cars? The entire United States withdraws about 350 billion gallons of fresh water every day — which is about how much water runs over Niagara Falls for 23 days straight — and about 80 percent of that is used for agriculture to grow our food and by industry to cool the electricity-generating power plants that keep our lights on. So, whether you are watering your lawn or buying groceries or leaving your lights on, most of the decisions you make every day ultimately relate back to water.
Last year’s Benzie County Water Festival — a family-oriented celebration and education event — attracted more than 300 attendees, and this year’s festival seeks to follow last year’s example. On Saturday, April 14, 2012 the Water Festival will again feature world-class Michigan musicians, panel discussions, speeches from water luminaries, interactive multimedia projects and presentations, artisan foods and beverages, visual art, children’s activities, as well as connections to local campaigns and projects, all at the Frankfort-Elberta High School. (click for schedule)
The day will begin with a watershed panel of experts who will speak to issues of water quality and monitoring,waterfront planning and zoning, prevention and control of invasive species, and good stewardship practices. Americana bluegrass by The Fauxgrass Quartet will accompany a lunch of carefully prepared local food, available for purchase, by Meryl Estes of Narrow Gauge Farm & Forge.
With an emphasis on “Why Northern Michigan?,” the afternoon brings an entrepreneurial panel that will feature local people whose outside-the-box job models are promoting “new thinking” for the sustainability of our region. Attorney Jim Olson and journalist Keith Schneider will team up to give a presentation on the Great Lakes and Global Development, specifically how China’s coal production and North Dakota’s oil boom relate.
Stick around for a pizza dinner, available for purchase from the after-school SEEDS program, followed by The State of the Watersheds Address, a wrap-up event with Tom Kramer of Interlochen Public Radio. Song of the Lakes will close the day’s events, performing their popular sea-faring tunes, Irish jigs, and sultry Brazilian melodies. (For the night owls, head over to Elberta’s Cabbage Shed to see an encore performance of The Fauxgrass Quartet at the festival’s after-glow party)