Starting At The Source – Water Protection At The Local Level

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – August 29, 2012 – 1 Comment

In a recent blog post I brought your attention to the wide array of grantees in our Environmental Grants program that are positively impacting our world. With so many groups taking the initiative to do good by the environment, I wanted to highlight a handful of recipients within specific categories…the first being source water protection involving youth education.

The drinking water that gets delivered to you every day goes through a thorough treatment process to ensure its quality and safety. But before it even reaches our facilities around the country it is coming from ground water, streams, rivers, springs or lakes in a watershed. Protecting this source water is an important part of providing high quality drinking water to the public.

Along with the EPA, and state and local governments, the following grantees are playing a critical role in protecting source water in their local areas. Perhaps more importantly, they are focused on a youth education component to their projects, because teaching the next generation about water protection is the best thing we can do to ensure its future.

The Ocean Foundation’s Ocean Connectors Project is an innovative watershed restoration effort in San Diego with the goal of inspiring 1,000 low-income elementary students to take action in protecting watersheds and the environment.

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center will utilize their grant for the Mississippi River Workshops to provide educators with activities, curriculum guide and tools for The Mississippi River XChange (MRX) program, a platform for high school students along the Mississippi River in Illinois to share information about their watershed and source water protection.

Barack Obama Green Charter High School is supporting the headwaters of the Robinson’s branch of the Rahway River in New Jersey, through water sampling, cleanup, building a nature trail and more.

Howard School of Academics & Technology and Lookout Mountain Conservancy are working on water quality monitoring and cleanup activities of Chattanooga Creek in Tennessee. The project will include science teachers at the high school and 300 students in chemistry and environmental science classes, as well as students from Calvin Donaldson Elementary School.

Coal River Paddle to Tire project will remove approximately 4,000 tires from the Big Coal and Little Coal rivers in four river cleanups. These cleanups, in partnership with the West Virginia DEP, will introduce youth to stream ecology and sustainability.

Since passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act, we have enjoyed one of the safest and cleanest supplies of drinking water in the world. Protecting water at the source ensures that through subsequent steps, health standards are met and water is delivered safely.

Using these examples of this year’s grantees as inspiration, businesses and individuals can also take actions to protect drinking water sources. Consider volunteering to help with a local waterway cleanup this fall, or organize one of your own, and think about including your community’s kids. If you already participate in a source water protection activity, please feel free to post a comment – I’d love to hear about it and you may give others some ideas, too.

1 Comment

  • Ann Alfano says:

    Dear Dr. Water, It’s inspiring to hear stories of young people working to preserve our water sources. I’ve been involved in a couple of organized “beach sweeps,” where teams gather together and pick up trash and debris from nearby ocean beaches. This past summer, each time I went to the beach I made sure I left it a little cleaner than I found it. I’ve also engaged my teenage daughters and their friends in this ritual. They seem eager to help! Even though these are small steps, they DO make a difference. Thanks for your message and inspiration.