Drippy the water droplet made his debut in Pasco County Schools last year as the Florida Governmental Utility Authority's mascot.
This year, amoeba "Amie Ba" is challenging him for the lead role in educating children about the water supply quality, distribution and wastewater treatment process.
Pasco elementary students are invited to cast their ballot in FGUA's 2013 Pasco County Water Awareness Poster contest using stickers of the mascot of their choosing and art supplies to decorate an 11-by-14-inch poster.
Drippy represents drinking water and water treatment and Amie Ba represent reclaimed water and wastewater treatment.
FGUA was formed in 1999 through an interlocal agreement between Brevard, Lee, Polk and Sarasota counties. These local governments, which now include Pasco, share resources to provide drinking and wastewater service to their residents at a lower cost and with more local management.
"The function is to try to bring in private utility systems and bring under government ownership for government accountability," said community services representative Matt Rihs.
Winners of the poster contest will receive trophies, ribbons and prizes, as well as bragging rights for helping to choose the new mascot for next year's educational programs.
The poster contest is part of FGUA's effort to strengthen community relations and expand outreach and educational efforts, according to special project coordinator Jeremy Castanza. FGUA partnered with Pasco County Utilities and the Pasco School District this year.
Upon request, Castanza and Rihs go to schools to teach students about the water cycle and how water gets from the aquifer to the sink.
FGUA also offers teachers educational resources to help teachers develop lesson plans about water and wastewater use.
Teachers can register their students to participate in the contest by going to www.fgua.com/poster-contest-registration and completing an online registration form by March 22.
Coloring sheets and stickers then will be delivered to the schools and students will have until April 12 to submit posters through the schools' courier service. Information on what to submit along with the poster, including the child's name, teacher's name, school name, grade level and media release status, can be found on the registration site.
Last year's program drew 1,200 participants, and this year's contest has registered nine schools and 1,364 students. All students receive participation certificates. Second- and third-place finishers receive ribbons and first-place winners get a trophy and a special award to be announced.
The posters will be judged in April, and a Pasco County Utilities or FGUA representative will contact the schools with information on winners and finalists. The winning posters will be displayed in the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey, during May.