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Orange County middle-schoolers offered an innovative water education program
A new water education program is now being offered to middle school students thanks to an innovative partnership between Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD) and Orange County Coastkeeper (OCC) W.H.A.L.E.S. (Watershed Heroes: Actions Linking Education to Stewardship) program. The W.H.A.L.E.S. program was conceived as a way to make it easier for students to understand water efficiency and sustainability. The program is open to all middle school classes in the Moulton Niguel Water District service area.
In a first-of-its-kind partnership, middle school students will go on field trips to a local watershed in Moulton Niguel’s service area, take part in interactive learning activities and have the opportunity to conduct a water quality test of their own. By starting at an early age, MNWD predicts that the program will yield millions of gallons of water savings compounded over a lifetime.
“We are excited to collaborate with the Moulton Niguel Water District to expand water education programs into more schools in Orange County,” stated Garry Brown, executive director and CEO of OC Coastkeeper. “MNWD is already a leader in environmental stewardship, and we look forward to working together to further this mission.”
In addition to the actual water education curriculum, the program provides busing for students, teachers, and class chaperones as they explore local watersheds and learn how to secure a sustainable water future. By offering field trips outside of the classroom, students will have the opportunity to grasp examples of multiple water savings and water efficiency efforts.
“This type of hands-on water education empowers students to manage their water use at an early age, while learning about the importance of water efficiency, sustainability, and protecting the environment,” explains Moulton Niguel Water District Board President Donald Froelich. “By taking kids to local watersheds, they can see the plants, animals and marine life impacted by urban runoff and develop a real understanding of how our water system works.”
Students will learn examples of how their own individual efforts can impact water conservation. These will include the importance of efficiently watering outdoors to prevent urban runoff and turning off the tap while brushing their teeth. Students will visualize the water savings of better water management when watering their lawn; reducing your sprinkler timer by one minute can help save 80 gallons of water a year and transforming your landscape to a California friendly garden can help save 40 gallons of water a day. The Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates that turning off the tap while brushing your teeth saves eight gallons of water per day. If a middle schooler develops the habit of turning off the tap, it could continue for years to come.
Moulton Niguel Water District sees the youth education program as a natural extension of its successful water conservation efforts. “Rain or shine, we’re still identifying new ways to be water wise,” says Froelich.
MNWD’s and Coastkeeper’s W.H.A.L.E.S. program is the next step in educating middle-schoolers in water conservation, the impact of their water actions toward a sustainable water future and in encouraging the early start to personal water savings habits.