Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project Groundwater Manager Ken Pill helps students learn about groundwater cleanup methods. [Photo courtesy of DOE]

Using sand-tank models, employees with the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project showed fifth-graders at the local Children’s Water Festival how they clean up groundwater.

Each spring, about 2,500 fifth-graders from the Grand Junction area participate in the festival. Ute Water Conservancy District is the primary sponsor and it partners with local businesses and government agencies to provide a diverse collection of hands-on activities to help educate students on water’s various roles.

Moab Project employees who participated in the demonstration at the event at Colorado Mesa University included groundwater manager Ken Pill, senior program manager Joe Ritchey, and public affairs manager Honora Thompson. To demonstrate groundwater movement, they used sand-tank models containing several layers of different materials including representations of gravel, sand, and clay. They also talked about the permeability of those materials, groundwater pollution, and cleanup strategies, such as pump-and-treat and natural flushing methods.

Student “polluters” inserted dyed water into the model to demonstrate how contamination can spread into groundwater. Students then worked to clean up the groundwater using plastic syringes to simulate pumping wells.

This was the festival’s 25th year and the Moab Project has taken part for about a decade.

The Moab Project uses extraction and injection wells on the Moab Site to protect surface water quality and to recover ammonia, uranium, and other contaminants prior to discharge to the Colorado River.

UMTRA Project teaches students about water