D.C. Students Help Solve Real-World Water Challenges
Be Water Wise DC participants present ideas to city officials
Students from 13 participating schools in the Be Water Wise DC program presented their solutions to real-world water conservation and storm water challenges at the Washington D.C. City Council June 8. Runoff from city streets of rainwater contributes to water pollution, affecting the quality of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers—and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
The student presentations included water-saving measures being implemented at their schools—from installing rain barrels and planting rain gardens to reduce runoff, to educating entire school communities on conserving water through assemblies, posted signs and student-prepared materials. Students at some schools have even contributed to helping restore the population of American shad by hatching and releasing the native fish into the Anacostia.
Be Water Wise DC is a water education program of the nonprofit National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), made possible through a public-private partnership with lead sponsor HSBC Bank. City agencies, the District of Columbia Public Schools system, businesses and local organizations took part this school year by providing resources, training and support for the program and its participating schools.
The program was originally piloted in Miami in 2009, followed by Atlanta in 2010 before coming to Washington D.C. schools for the 2011-12 school year. “Be Water Wise DC has been able to engage students in a hands-on environmental education experience to learn about the environment and particularly the water challenges in their community—water conservation and storm water runoff,” said Deborah A. Sliter, Senior Vice President for Programs at NEEF.
“Educating our youth on the value of water conservation is important work,” said Christophe A.G. Tulou, director of the District Department of the Environment. “The students are learning about the environment and are contributing to improving water quality at their schools. Most importantly, they are sharing what they learned with their families and community. NEEF and the students should all be commended for their commitment and great work.”
In addition to lesson plans that develop and hone skills in science, technology, engineering and math, the program features hands-on activities such as measuring water flow rates and determining total water use in school buildings and grounds. The program culminates with student projects focused on the needs of their schools and the students presenting what they have learned.
Johnson Controls Inc. provided technical support with engineers to train teachers and facilities staff to help students perform water measurement activities. “Innovative programs like Be Water Wise DC reap long-term benefits for the entire community,” said Chuck Farina, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager – Education at Johnson Controls, Inc. “Students see how simple steps can save school resources and protect the environment.”
Participating D.C. schools included:
Ballou High School
Capital City Public Charter School
Cardozo High School
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
H.D. Woodson STEM High School
John Eaton Elementary School
Mann Elementary School
Maury Elementary School
Seaton Elementary School
Sharpe Health School
Smothers Elementary School
Takoma Education Campus
Thomson Elementary School
In addition to HSBC Bank and Johnson Controls, Inc., Be Water Wise DC was supported by PwC, Walmart, Constellation Energy, and the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation. Other Be Water Wise DC partners include the Anacostia Watershed Society, Casey Trees, Clean Water America Alliance, DC Greenworks, DC Water, District of Columbia Public Schools, the District Department of the Environment, EnvironMentors, National Geographic Education, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Navy.
For more information about Be Water Wise, please visit http://www.eeweek.org/be_water_wise.