Downtown Elementary Class Named Winner of Cal Water H2O Challenge

April 11, 2016 – Rachel Lenix and her sixth grade class at Downtown Elementary School have been named the winners of the 2016 Cal Water H2O Challenge. The announcement was made during a school assembly celebrating Earth Day. The class was excited and surprised to find out they had won the statewide competition, outperforming 50 other schools.

“We’d been stalking the Cal Water website waiting to see if the winners had been announced,” said Lenix. “We saw third and fourth place show up and I was wondering when they were going to let us know about the rest of the winners. I was emailing and calling them because I knew we had to find out something soon, and this morning was a total surprise.”

The class designed and conducted an experiment to test the impact of greywater on lawns versus freshwater. Greywater, which is defined as gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines, can be recycled for safe use.

“Conserving water is really important because California is in a drought and it would be important to have people understand these are ways to conserve water,” said student Anna Lisquist.

For their project titled, “Downtown’s 6th Graders’ Water Challenge: Greywater as an Alternative Water Source,” the students designed and built plant boxes for sod to use in a greywater experiment. They included a freshwater control and three variations using different percentages of greywater to find an ideal substitute. The students also created brochures and a presentation board to spread conservation awareness in their school and community.

“The class demonstrated to us at this pivotal and critical time of water conservation that we can always work together to ensure that our communities can still enjoy an excellent quality of life and high-quality water when we all think wisely about the water issues so important in each of our communities,” said Martin A. Kropelnicki, Cal Water President and CEO.

For their efforts in creating a project, Lenix’s class will receive a $3,500 grant along with a classroom tent-camping trip to Malibu in conjunction with the NatureBridge environmental science education program.

“My birthday is actually on the second day of the trip so I’m going to have a lot of fun on that day,” said Lisquist. “We’re going to hang out and have a lot of fun, we’re going to love that trip.”

Developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the Cal Water H2O Challenge ( was open to students and teachers in grades 4-6 in schools served by Cal Water.

Choice 1

A group of students perform an Earth Day dance routine.

Choice 2

Lenix and her class the moment it was announced they had won the statewide competition.

Choice 3

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Choice 5

A few of the students of the winning class were in tears with excitement as they congratulated each other with hugs.

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