The district began the WaterWise Conservation Education Program for fifth graders in 2010, offering water conservation kits and education free of charge to teachers, students and their families throughout the district.
“The WaterWise Program was chosen to be offered by the district because of its unique combination of in-class conservation education and interactive, home-based conservation activities,” said Kirk Welch, the district’s assistant general manager for outreach. “This year 620 teachers, students and their families made changes in their behavior that will result in almost 4-million gallons of water being saved annually.” WaterWise achieves additional results that are difficult to measure by causing families to adjust their attitudes and actions regarding our most precious resource.
The program begins with classroom discussions teaching the importance of using water and energy efficiently, followed by hands-on, creative problem solving. Next, participants take home a WaterWise Kit that contains conservation tools. With the help of their parents/guardians, they install the tools in their home and complete a home survey. Here are a few samples of questions asked on the home survey.
Did you install the high efficiency showerhead? Yes – 42%
Did you work with your family on this program? Yes – 71%
Did your family change the way they use water? Yes – 68%
Before installing the conservation tools in their homes, parents/guardians and students measured the efficiency of pre-existing devices so they could calculate savings generated using the new devices. Using the family habits collected from a home survey as the basis for this calculation, six hundred twenty (620) households are expected to save the following resource totals. Savings from these actions and new behaviors will continue for many years to come.
By installing and monitoring the new efficiency tools in their own homes, students can measure what they learned with actual water, energy, and monetary savings! These savings benefit both the participating student households and their communities.
The school-based WaterWise Program is fully implemented and designed to generate immediate and long-term savings by bringing interactive “real world” education home with motivated students. The program staff identifies and enrolls students and teachers within the designated service territory. Materials meet state and national educational standards, which allow the program to easily fit into teachers’ existing schedules and requirements. Dona Smith from Dalhart Intermediate School said “I love the whole thing. Home and school can get involved.”
Students were asked to complete a ten-question test before the program was introduced and then again after it was completed to determine the knowledge gained through the program. On average students answered 60-percent of the questions correctly prior to being involved in the program and improved to answer 79-percent correctly following participation.
This article was compiled from excerpts from the 2016-2017 North Plains GCD WaterWise Program Summary Report.