San Francisco Utility Launches Animated Children's Video About Sewer Systems

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When you flush the toilet, what happens to the waste and toilet paper? The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and California Academy of Sciences recently helped answer this question by launching an educational, animated video created to teach elementary school students about San Francisco’s sewer system.

“Our agency looks for new and innovative ways to teach youth about our systems, and how they can make sustainable choices at home, school and as they move through the world,” says Blair Randall, the SFPUC’s arts and education manager. “With The Story of Poo, we’re introducing our city’s youngest residents to our combined sewer system with a fun, age-appropriate video to help them understand the upgrades we are making to our sewer infrastructure to support future generations.”

Narrated by a 6-year-old girl, the video follows her reflections from a recent field trip to the Southeast Treatment Plant (SEP), where 80 percent of the city’s wastewater is treated. The video captures the girl’s excitement as she explains the wastewater process — a journey which begins with flushing the toilet, flowing to treatment at the SEP and finally discharging into the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean.

Through her perspective, young viewers also learn the importance of keeping sewer pipes clean and protecting our environment and health by keeping nonflushable items out of the system.

“Utilities are crucially important to healthy, sustainable cities,” says Elizabeth C. Babcock, chief public engagement officer of the California Academy of Sciences. “The Story of Poo translates the SFPUC’s forward-thinking environmental designs for waste treatment into a fun, practical tool for youth and educators. Our hope for this project is that every young person in San Francisco has the knowledge and inspiration to help keep our water systems healthy through their daily choices.”

Young residents can watch the video here, access supporting educational materials and learn more about the SFPUC’s sewer system. Additionally, the SFPUC wastewater treatment plant tours offer opportunities for school field trips or general tours of the agency’s Southeast Wastewater and Oceanside wastewater treatment plants.


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