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There was water, water everywhere - and even some drops to drink - Wednesday at Salt Lake Community College as the first Utah Water Fair was held.

Hundreds of children from Granite, Jordan and Salt Lake school districts journeyed to the college to learn more about one of life's essentials.They watched demonstrations, imaginatively "danced" the water cycle, competed in a water-trivia competition, tracked the water in a miniature system from mountain to water taps and in general came to a better understanding of how water affects their lives.

"Everything is working out great," said Virginia Jensen, edu-ca-tion/conservation coordinator for the state's Division of Water Resources. She was instrumental in putting together what she hopes will be an annual event.

At the moment, she was watching an enthusiastic contingent of children from Lincoln Elementary, Granite District, who were divided up as parts of the water cycle.

From the gentle swishing of water in pools, ponds and rivers to the sun's agitation of molecules to create clouds, through the violence of a black-and-white summer storm, back to pools, ponds and rivers, they acted out the process with plastic bags, plastic strings, plastic strips and lots of imagination.

Their teacher, Lola Speckart, watched while Laurie Stander and Elyse Pearmain directed.

Upstairs in the Rampton Technology Building, a group from Pleasant Green Elementary watched Utah State University extension agent Brent L. Gledhill work "Soil Magic" with plastic containers of clay, silt and soil. He had help from Fred Liljegren of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Together, they demonstrated how the various soils act differently to hold or drain water. The ideal, Gledhill said, showing the children tubes of soil that had been sitting in a bucket of water, is a mix of soils with organic material to hold moisture.

The Westbrook Lobsters left a small auditorium rejoicing in their 24-3 win over the Trouts in the water trivia quiz.

"We sometimes answered before they were finished with the question," said Kira Allen. "We really learned a lot."

One of the important messages they were taking home was "that we need to use less (water)," said Rachel Welker.

Water has aesthetic values as well as practical uses, Kathleen C. Mason told students from Salt Lake's Bennion Elementary. Her room was decorated with artworks by Winslow Homer and others noted for their dynamic seascapes, and she played a classical piece titled "Neptune" as a background to entice the children to describe the many moods of water. Some of the students were even invited to do their own artwork to reflect what the music was telling them.

"H-2-O makes everything go," a trio of Orem city employees told the children. In a large box, they had recreated the city's water system, tracing the water from the mountains above Deer Creek, through the Provo Canyon water purification plant and into the distribution system that allows Orem residents to turn on their taps and get results. The presenters were Layne Beatty, Sullivan Love and Lane Gray.

Through the day, fourth- and fifth-graders from 28 schools - about 1,200 students in all - visited the many exhibits and left with a greater appreciation for water and the need to value Utah's water resources.