Liquid Gold: Mansfield’s ‘Water 360’ Program Pours on the Education
By Kerry Pipes
Water is essential to life. But how much do you really understand about water conservation and the numerous other environmental concerns facing our community? Sure, you try to be thrifty when you water the lawn and you recycle with the best of them, but do you really know much about natural resources, conservation strategies or the environmental infrastructure? Arianne Shipley and Stephanie Zavala are two partners dedicated to helping the Mansfield community better understand its water and environmental resources and how to make the most of them.
Together, Shipley and Zavala serve as the city of Mansfield’s education specialists with the Water Utilities Division, as well as coordinators for Keep Mansfield Beautiful. They are a team on a mission.
“Stephanie and I are both public education specialists for Water Utilities. Our job functions are education and communication efforts,” says Shipley. She explains that Zavala is in charge of education and communication for Environmental Services, while Shipley handles Water Utilities. But there’s no mistaking they are a team. “We’ve even branded ourselves as the Mansfield H2duO,” jokes Shipley.
One initiative these two young guns are spearheading is the city’s Water 360 program (formerly known as H2Outreach). It’s an education and awareness program for both Water Utilities and Environmental Services. Its purpose is to educate the community on the value of water in order to protect the environment and infrastructure as well as to prepare for future growth. The department aims to inform the public about issues such as water quality, water quantity (including current and projected future demand), the impact of water issues on the community, careers in the water industry and water as a public health issue.
“We call the new program Water 360 because we educate the public on both the Water Utilities side as well as the environmental side, which includes storm water,” says Zavala. Once educated, citizens can become better stewards of the resources, she says. And that, ultimately, will have a positive impact on all resources.
But the education component is just half the equation, says Zavala. “We also have to put on our communicator hats, too. So in addition to education we are also responsible for social media content, internal communications, preparing presentations for senior staff, public relations efforts, and making video content for the entire Water Utilities department,” she says.
Both Shipley and Zavala feel they are right where they belong. Each is a young mother working to balance a career and family. They value hard work, authenticity and creativity and they bring those traits to implementing the education plan through public awareness campaigns, programs and services. Implementing the communication plan includes emergency communication, public relations, social media campaigns, creating copy for a variety of sources, updating website information, creating graphics, videos and presentations. The ultimate goal, says Shipley, is a community that understands the value of water, the infrastructure it takes to maintain safe drinking water and utilities employees that are seen as major assets.
Shipley says the department has recently kicked off a revamped Texas SmartScape program. The hands-on learning approach features classes that take place in residents’ yards. “Residents learn together how to make simple DIY fixes that make a big impact on reducing water waste and do the work themselves,” says Shipley. “We are firm believers that you have to get your hands dirty before you really feel empowered to do something yourself.”
A new initiative in 2018 will offer an education program for high school students. They are still working out the details but say the program will include service learning, entrepreneurship, problem-based learning and open source technology.
Zavala says they are always excited to get community feedback. “We want to create programs and services that serve all of our needs. We need to hear what works, what doesn’t, what’s engaging, what’s not. The challenge is finding the best way to engage with the community,” she says.
If all this sounds interesting, look for the Water Utilities page at www.mansfieldtexas.gov/water360 or follow them on the City of Mansfield, TX Facebook/Twitter pages.
Stephanie Zavala and Arianne Shipley are both public education specialists for Mansfield’s Water Utilities Division and coordinators for Keep Mansfield Beautiful. They are also best friends who love to educate the community about the importance and value of water and other natural resources. The women love their jobs and are busy raising families here in the community. We asked them to tell us a little more about themselves and their interests.
Arianne Shipley: The small town feel, but literally everything I need is within a few minutes. Love the direction downtown is heading.
Stephanie Zavala: Mansfield wasn’t born yesterday but is still young enough to let its hair down and have some fun. Mansfield isn’t afraid to be creative.
How do you spend your free time? Hobbies? Interests?
AS: What the heck is that?! I enjoy simple things like back porch sittin’ and drinking coffee at our land in Fairfield, TX called Glory Farms. I recently discovered a passion for the world of creative marketing, strategic planning and educating. So I try to gather as much information as I can about these interests.
SZ: I’m active in my Jewish community in Fort Worth and serve on various boards and committees. I’m a big foodie and love trying out new places. I also love music, dancing, reading and spending time with friends and family.
Where do you like to eat in Mansfield?
AS: The Porch has become a frequent meeting place for us. They have a special table reserved for us because she likes booths and I like chairs. We like to spread the love though and hit up all the local spots.
SZ: I love brainstorming at the Porch, debriefing at Olivers and solving all of the world’s problems with Police Chief Tracy Aaron at Joe’s.
Do you go see movies? Which ones? Museums? Theater?
AS: Ha ha! Nope, almost never. We do go to the zoo a lot more now. Before kids we enjoyed the theater. We’re really into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse right now.
SZ: Yeah it’s a real bummer for me that I can never get Arianne to the movies. I’m a huge movie buff. My husband and I just saw Doctor Strange. I also enjoy theater but haven’t been to a show lately. My husband is obsessed with "Hamilton" but I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to get us tickets in Chicago.
What’s the last book you read?
AS: Not so much read, but listen to books constantly. Currently “reading” Amy Poehler’s Yes Please! I’m really into personal development books but I do love me some fiction.
SZ: When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin. Very inspiring.
Do you have a favorite quote?
AS: “But why?” by Greg Wukasch, our mentor.
SZ: I have several but the one coming to mind is: “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.” - Baba Dioum
Who or what inspires you?
AS: Stephanie… and young entrepreneurs.
SZ: People living their dream. I would say without fear, but none of us lose that fear. I’m inspired by people who live their dream despite that fear.
Do you travel? Where?
AS: Yes! Well not as much as we used to but we still go to Colorado annually to just hang out. Costa Rica to visit family. The beach any chance we can. I travel a lot to the grocery store to buy more diapers!
SZ: Not as much as I want to. I need to find a lost trust fund somewhere (LOL). I took two trips to Israel in 2015 that were life changing. It’s the most magical place on earth. Looking forward to going back in 2018. I haven’t been to San Diego in almost two years and that’s just unacceptable. That’s usually an annual trip. Illinois every July to visit family.
Favorite drink at Starbucks?
AS: Blah! No thanks. Only if Stephanie is with me. My favorite coffee is anything I can get my hands on ASAP. Hot or cold, doesn’t matter at this point in the toddler-rearing phase.
SZ: Chai tea latte with nonfat milk. My favorite coffee is instant Nescafe (LOL).
One person in history you would most like to have lunch with?
AS: Aldo Leopold, he’s considered the father of wildlife ecology and had a passion for the natural world. I would like to have this lunch on my land in Fairfield and pick his brain about everything around me.
SZ: As a Jew, Moses, so I could ask, “Dude, how did you do it?! 40 years!”
Belong to professional/community organizations?
BOTH: Society of Texas Environmental Professionals, Water Efficiency Network of North Texas, Water Outreach Re-Created, TX Section of American Water Works Association, TAMIO.
Mansfield’s Water Utilities Division public education team exists to educate the community on everything from water conservation and landscaping to mulching and properly disposing of hazardous materials.
Here’s a list of some of the programs offered:
Texas SmartScape Project: Focuses on using native and adapted plants and SmartScape-friendly landscape practices. This program includes both hands-on, onsite and classroom classes on topics such as landscape design, maintenance and irrigation.
Mulch Madness: Offers free mulch pickup for residents biweekly, typically March through May.
Hazardous Household Waste Collection Events: Occur at the Environmental Collection Center (ECC) every second Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Beautification/Shred Day: Gives residents a way to properly dispose of large trash items and brush, as well as the shredding of private documents. Occurs twice a year, in the spring and fall.
Earth Day Mansfield: A day to learn ways you can help the environment of your community but also have fun.
Fix a Leak Week: Offers classes in conjunction with the national awareness week through the Environmental Protection Agency that shows residents how to fix minor household leaks in the household or irrigation.
Creekside Cleanup: Bi-annual event where community volunteers pick up trash around Mansfield water bodies to protect our water quality.
Grease Roundup: Six-week event where people can bring their used cooking oil/grease to the ECC for recycling so that it doesn’t go down the drain and damage our sewer system.
Get Irrigated, Not Irritated: Irrigation classes with such topics as DIY quick fixes, drip conversion, programming your controller and irrigation 101. Mansfield residents also have access to free irrigation evaluation year round where a licensed irrigator will check for common issues such as leaks, breaks and incorrect programming.
Make Your Own Rain Barrel Classes: Typically held in spring.
Water Treatment Plant Tours: Ages 8th grade and up.
Water Treatment Plant Simulation Activities: Activities that simulate the water treatment process that we bring to school/organizations for students in elementary/middle school that are too young for an onsite tour of the plant.
For more about this, visit www.mansfieldtexas.gov/water360.