Every year since 2010, The Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium together with the City of Columbia and Richland County Stormwater teams have produced an exciting and educational water festival! This festival, “Summer Celebration of Water”, has been a fun way to end the summer at Riverfront Park with free water sports for the public on the Columbia Canal, water slides and splash pads for the children. Hands-on learning exhibits were provided by the SC Section of the American Water Works Association; Keep the Midlands Beautiful; Riverfront Park Rangers; Trout Unlimited; Gills Creek Watershed Assn.; the Sierra Club and many other organizations dedicated to the health and preservation of our beautiful South Carolina waterways. Exhibit visitors also learned a few simple behaviors to keep our waterways cleaner. This summer, the festival was held on Saturday, September 16, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Visitors were treated to free water from the Columbia Water Treatment plant stations all during the festival to make sure they were well hydrated. Free water bottles and other take-away items enhanced the learning process. Fishing demonstrations, a park tour and “life at the water’s edge” tour were conducted. Local businesses provided prizes throughout the day in a free ticket drawing for everyone who entered Riverfront Park and interacted with the festival.
In October 2015, the Midlands experienced a 1,000 year storm that damaged the Columbia Canal and decreased the water level by several feet. Since then, it has been difficult to safely conduct water sports such as paddle boarding, tubing or kayaking in the Canal. In order to take these concerns into consideration, the Summer Celebration of Water 2017, excluded some boating activities on the Canal but continued to provide water slides and splash pads that families enjoyed. It is time now to regroup and decide the future of this festival. While it may take a different form, the creative organizers of Summer Celebration of Water will work to reinvent a new way to make a big splash. Our goal is to bring people to our local waterways for fun, and to engage them in caring for our waters for continued recreation and enjoyment of their beauty and life-preserving purpose.