At a Glance
California is facing one of its most severe droughts on record, and it’s important we each do our part to conserve. For schools and districts, this means reducing potable urban water usage by 25%. Even though this number sounds daunting, there are a variety of steps communities can take to help conserve water.
What Can Schools and Districts Do?
The California Department of Education has compiled a list of helpful suggestions for districts as they consider strategies to reduce water use. Some examples include
- Repairing and adjusting irrigation systems
- Aerating soil in turf fields
- Using native or drought-tolerant plants
- Installing a pool cover on outdoor pools
- Using metered or optical-sensor faucets
Check out the full list on the California Department of Education's Drought Resources page.
Districts can further engage their communities by making sure the public is aware of their water conservation efforts. Districts can use press releases, op-ed articles, reports, or social media messaging to get the conservation message out. (Use the hashtag #WaterWiseSchools.)
For example, the San Joaquin County Office of Education posts a weekly photo of the grass in front of their office to show the effect of the watering cutback. The community response has been very positive.
What Can Teachers Do?
Education is critical when it comes to water conservation, and there are a number of resources teachers can use to incorporate conservation into their curriculum:
- Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) publishes water resource education materials, provides training workshops, and organizes community water events.
- The Water Education Foundation website offers a variety of resources teachers can use in the classroom.
- The California Regional Environmental Education Community Network provides lists of water-related activities sorted by region, grade level, program type, topic, or content standard.
What Can Students Do?
Students can help monitor unintended water waste at their schools, but administrators need to ensure there's a way to report things like leaks around campus, running toilets and faucets, and sprinklers that are spraying onto sidewalks. This reporting system can be as simple as creating a "water-saving suggestion box" or designating a teacher or administrator as a go-to resource.
Students can also help monitor water usage at home, and schools can work with local partners to provide students with additional resources. For example, the North Coast County Water District and Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) are working together in Pacifica to offer Water-Wise School Kits to fifth graders there. The kits enable students to perform water audits of their homes.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents can support what students are learning in school by ensuring they're taking water-saving steps at home, too. Some examples of home water conservation ideas include
- Keeping a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge instead of running the tap
- Running the dishwasher only when it's full
- Turning the water off when brushing teeth
- Cutting shower time in half