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Posted: November 17, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Students learn how to preserve water quality

Submitted photo/

A special day: (Back row) Ernie Smith and Les Hampton, GIS representatives from the county and city and Chairman Kathy Morgan and Mayor Kim Carter (front row) signed a proclamation that names Wednesday as Geographic Information Systems Day.

Newton County uses geographic mapping software to locate sex offenders, settle zoning disputes and predict flood patterns.

This week is national Geography Awareness Week, and Covington and Newton County recently declared Wednesday as Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, Day.

GIS employee Ernie Smith will be presenting Newton County's online sex offender mapping system at a statewide conference in Atlanta Wednesday, and GIS department head Lynn Parham will teach Newton County middle school students about the importance of preserving water quality.

She said this year's theme is how stormwater and water from homes can affect water quality. Parham spent Tuesday working with students at Clements Middle School. Students placed various substances, including oil from cars, grease from cooking and excess fertilizer into a large casserole dish filled with water, to examine how they affect the water.

"Kids can say, ‘Oh, it matters what I put down the drain,'" Parham said. "The kids have been really receptive and have tons of questions. One class we just finished got stuck on grease. ‘You mean, when my momma fries chicken, she's not supposed to pour grease down the sink?' We said, ‘No, no, no, don't do that.' A lot of kids don't think about it."

Parham said the presentations are important because the kids learn, but they can also teach their parents.
Parham will attend Cousins and Indian Creek middle schools today and Thursday.

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