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Anacapa Students Visit Sacramento, Study Water Issues

Seventh- and eighth-graders are learning about the politics and policy issues surrounding twin tunnel project

Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Anacapa School returned home from a five-day trip to Northern California with a special focus on water issues related to our state’s drought.

The students’ first stop on the drive to Sacramento was the San Luis Reservoir, a major off-stream storage reservoir for the State Water Project. Department of Water Resources representative Howard Berman, an expert on the history of the SWP, gave the group a comprehensive introduction to the project.

After hearing about the SWP, the students packed back into their chartered Santa Barbara Airbus and stopped at an almond farm and a dairy to learn first-hand about how their operations have been impacted by the water shortage.

“Going to the almond farm really helped me in discovering the importance of finding creative ways to face new situations,” said Rocelia Rodriguez, a seventh-grade student at Anacapa. “(The farmer’s) almond trees were being impacted quite strongly by the drought so he installed a drip irrigation system to save water, money and his trees.”

In Sacramento, the students met with lobbyists and experts to discuss the controversial $40 billion to $50 billion plan to build two 40-foot-wide tunnels to carry Sacramento River water to Southern California.

“Hearing the different opinions on the Twin Tunnels helped me to consider diverse points of view,” eighth-grader Josh Colohan said. “We heard every side of the story: whether (the) tunnels would help people or not, destroy the Delta environment or not, or whether they would help or harm the economy.”

At the State Capitol, the students spoke directly with their state legislators Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to get their perspectives on California’s water issues.

“When we went to Hannah-Beth Jackson’s office and she asked us if we wanted to go on the (Senate) floor. I was very excited,” exclaimed eighth-grader Haydn Brooke. “It was a special experience that not many people get to do and I am grateful I had that opportunity.”

Before returning to Santa Barbara, the Airbus made two final stops in the small town of Locke and later at the Banks Pumping Plant near Livermore.

Founded in 1915 by Chinese merchants, Locke is on the National Register of Historic Places. California Deltas Chamber of Commerce representative Bill Wells led the group on a walk through Locke and on a forest path to the nearby levee holding back the Delta waters. Along the way in his role as an official representative of Restore the Delta, Wells summarized for the students the key arguments against building the Twin Tunnels.

Later at the Banks Pumping Plant, students received an exclusive tour to see where the water is lifted up by powerful pumps from the Delta to start its by-gravity flow down the California Aqueduct to its next stop downstream at the San Luis Reservoir, where their trip began!

Anacapa takes multiday trips each school year. These trips are usually camping trips, and they always include physical challenges, environmental and historical education, and community building. Upper School students in grades 9 through 12 will travel to Boston in June to visit the historic sites of the American Revolution.

Anacapa School is an independent, co-educational, WASC-accredited, college preparatory day school for junior high and high school students in grades 7 through 12. Founded in 1981 by headmaster Gordon Sichi, Anacapa enjoys the best student-teacher ratio of any school, public or private, in Santa Barbara at its historic campus located in the heart of the Santa Barbara civic center.

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