CARMEL, INDIANA GROUNDWATER GUARDIANS
Technology is constantly evolving and it takes effort and dedication to stay relevant with the millennial generation. Sue Maki, Manager of Environmental Initiatives and Education as well as Public Relations for the local Groundwater Guardian (GG) team in Carmel, Indiana, brings just that as well as an element of humor to keep Carmel informed about their city’s water resources.
Having lived in Carmel for the past 28 years, Sue developed strong bonds with her fellow community members. As the city continues to grow, the needs of the community have to be balanced with the needs of the environment. When Sue first joined City of Carmel Utilities, she admits that she had never really understood the importance of cooperation between the divisions and how the effectiveness of the whole department could influence their access to groundwater. Jaimie Foreman, GG team leader and Drinking Water Regulatory Compliance Supervisor at Carmel Utilities, relies heavily on Sue to make sure that the rest of the city’s population similarly understands groundwater safety issues.
In a world where Carmel relies completely on their groundwater and children in business suits must battle fire hydrant safety violations, Sue and the GG team reply, “Not to fear, dear citizen! Carmel Utilities to the rescue!”
On their YouTube channel, City of Carmel utility employees dress in capes, parkas, and wigs to demonstrate ways to prevent sewage leakage (Carmel Sewer Superheroes), keep your pipes safe in the winter (Cold-Weather Tips), and repair leaky toilets (LeakyToilets). Citizens, usually enthusiastic Utilities employees, write scripts and film short videos packed with quips and tips to make conservation education an enjoyable experience in the classroom and at home. The team has also worked with local drama programs to recruit young actors to play a variety of roles, from miniature versions of adults to eco-conscious teens judging homeowners who over-irrigate. Making the students become the teachers in these educational videos is a funny and encouraging way to help them become leaders in conservation and stewardship and, for a driven kid, the screen-time given to these shorts on the local government access channel could be the gateway to stardom.
As times have changed and other social media sites have adapted video-sharing into their platforms, local GG publicity has remained up-to-date. Videos are now also uploaded to Facebook and Twitter and the GG team sees a much larger following and audience interaction on these pages than they do on their channel. In a community that cares about each other, news such as trash delays as well as videos featuring friends and family are retweeted and shared quickly and by linking posts to The Groundwater Foundation, the resource library is instantly available and shareable to anyone with an internet connection. With a regular posting schedule, Sue makes sure the community feels updated but not overwhelmed with information.
The GG team’s online presence has not only helped with event marketing and conservation tips, but it also aims to move into electronic newsletters and expanding its social media promotions. Sue gets to enjoy the best of the best when it comes to connecting with her community and teaching sustainable water practices. On the ground and online, the goal of the local GG team and Carmel Utilities is simple: “Help keep Carmel safe and our water clear.