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Kid Zone: Did you ever wonder what neat things can be done with water? Check out PLANET H2O's cool careers and water facts.
H2O Technology Through Time: Did you know that the Egyptians devised the world's first irrigation system? Want to learn more? See More Facts.
Down the Drain: Checkout the amount of water that goes down the drain around the world each day!
A Day in the Life of a Hydrologist.
Jeffrey A. Thornton originally became a hydrologist -- a scientist who studies water and its properties, on and in the earth, and in the atmosphere -- decades ago, in large part so that he could avoid having to work with people.
Take CONTROL: Click here to access PLANET H2O's exciting interactive activities about pollution, technology, and science. "I just wanted to help the environment," he says. These days, however, Thornton has found a way to do both: work with people, both locally and around the world, to solve environmental problems. "People are the core of my work. They make the difference."

Officially, Thornton is the executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Committee, a government agency that assists communities to identify -- and ultimately solve -- problems with their recreational lakes.

In a typical day, Thornton may meet with scientists, government officials, and with the public. "My days start quite early, with a check of the email at about 6:00 am to see what demands are coming from around the world, and continue into the usual public servant day of eight to five phone calls and plan writing," he says.

Wisconsin is a state full of recreational lakes -- many thousands of them -- each falling under the oversight of a lake district or lake association. In Thornton's region of the state, there are about 400 lake districts and 300 to 400 lake associations. At any given time, he might be working with a few dozen, helping them resolve issues with their lakes. Some areas may have boating conflicts, while others are faced with water quality problems or imbalances in fish populations that are disrupting the vital balance of a lake's ecosystem.

Photographs of a motorboat on the Chesapeake Bay, the Shaman in Huacaria, Peru, and a baby blue crab.
Cool Careers
If you're a hydrologist like Jeffrey Thornton, you really do study water and where it is found. But even if the wet stuff is not your cup of tea, there are still lots of other cool water-related careers you can dive into.

Click on each career to learn more about working with water.

Frequently, Thornton's work continues even after he clocks out of his regular job. His free time in the evenings, on weekends, and on vacations, is devoted to his not-for-profit consulting company, International Environmental Services, through which he assists developing countries with their own lake and water problems. He writes grants so poor countries can get funding from international agencies, and helps develop educational programs about water use and water pollution. Recently, Thornton -- who worked in South Africa for 15 years doing water research (while also getting a Ph.D. in tropical resource ecology and a Masters in Business Administration) -- visited Brazil, where he met with the country's Secretariat for Water Resources (the equivalent of the U.S.'s Environmental Protection Agency).

"The scales are different -- at home, I may be dealing with a local politician about a 50 acre lake, and in another country with a head of state about the Amazon River basin -- but the need for the public to understand science and for the scientist to communicate with the public is the same," he says.

Jump into fun interactive activities and learn more about H2O. Search the globe and become a water pollution and water clean-up expert in Water Hot-Spots. Flip through the PLANET H2O scrapbook and explore high- and low-tech ways in which water is used in Water Power. Investigate where water is found above, on, and beneath the surface of the earth in Water World.
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