Water Champions - A Program to Promote Water Conservation in Our Schools
In 2009, USEPA Region 2 approached New Jersey Water Savers to participate in the Water Champions Program. The Water Champions Program is designed to engage high school students in the promotion of WaterSense® and water efficient products. This environmentally-oriented community service and learning effort allows students the opportunity to tailor their program to local community needs.
What is the Water Champions Program?
The Water Champions Program was designed to recruit high school students to work in their community to provide a local environmentally-oriented learning effort. It is through these efforts that we will be able to create the conditions that allow for behavior changes, such as smarter purchasing decisions and proactive public participation in water conservation.
Students learn how to conduct an indoor water audit at school and at home
Students work in groups to develop a plan for conserving water at the school
Funding is available to support bathroom retrofit projects
Students learn the importance of water conservation and cost saving/water reducing technologies
Students gain experience to recruit local retailers to participate in the EPA WaterSense® Program
Students gather data on water efficient technologies and learn how to calculate the reduced volume of water used
Students learn how to calculate the cost savings associated with water efficient purchases
Students are provided leadership opportunities to share the results of their efforts within their community
In 2011 the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program received a grant from USEPA Region 2’s Pollution Prevention Program to fully implement the Water Champions Program in three (3) high schools in New Jersey.
Rahway High School
An AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassador, along with New Jersey Water Savers, began working with the Rahway High School Social Action Club. Similar to many city schools in New Jersey, Rahway High School, located in the City of Rahway, Union County, New Jersey, was built in 1941, and many plumbing fixtures need to be updated. The students conducted an audit, and they believed that the school could reduce its water use by two thirds (i.e., up to 1.6 million gallons of water and approximately $6,500 in cost) a year by upgrading the bathrooms with water-saving plumbing fixtures. Based on the student’s initial findings, New Jersey Water Savers provided funding to cover the labor costs to update two bathrooms in the high school with new plumbing fixtures. Two (2) restrooms were retrofitted during the spring of 2010.
Piscataway-based American Standard Brands donated the high efficiency faucets, toilets, and urinals to the school. Through New Jersey Water Savers and the support of the AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program, the Rahway Water Champions Project was expanded to include an educational component for the students involved in the Rahway High School Social Action Club. During the summer of 2010, the students presented their initial findings on the Rahway Water Champions Project to American Standard, a Union County Freeholder, and the Rahway Board of Education. The students pitched the idea of retrofitting the entire school, and as a result, American Standard has committed to supplying the products for this effort. Continued retrofitting of the entire school is contingent upon approval from the Rahway Board of Education.
Since 2010, Ms. Elizabeth Jotz, faculty advisor, has provided leadership to this afterschool club. She has been instrumental in gaining the support of the local community and the students. In addition to promoting water conservation, the Social Action Club has also has participated in programs such as Bioblitz and Rahway River clean-ups. During the fall of 2012, the club will plan a school sponsored event to recruit retailers to participate in WaterSense®. In addition, the school district has approved the expansion of retrofits for the second and third floors of the high school.
Hopewell Valley Central High School
This rural high school, located in Pennington, Mercer County, New Jersey, was selected because the school district is committed to teaching the students lessons about global responsibility, such as how to minimize its carbon footprint in earth-friendly design and construction of new buildings, in energy-efficient system retrofits of its historic schoolhouses, in its use of high-performing, green cleaning products and HEPA-rated vacuum cleaners and in paperless communications. Under Ms. Sarah Sherwin’s guidance, the Water Champions Program was initially delivered through the Advanced Placement Environmental Science class. Advanced Placement Environmental Science is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester introductory college course. The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the scientific principles governing the natural world and to apply these concepts to the analysis and proposed remediation of environmental problems. The students learn both lab and field investigation skills that emphasize the techniques for research design, data collection, and analysis. This course is only offered to grades 11 and 12. During the spring of 2012, Ms. Sherwin’s class examined the amount of water used in an average home each day and discussed how to manage and conserve water resources to meet the needs of the natural world around them. Students also performed an indoor water audit of their school.
During the summer of 2012, funding was provided to the school to install water-saving fixtures in several bathrooms. In addition, the high school will install several Eco-Friendly drinking water stations to comply with the new federal legislation (Public Law 111-296), which took effect at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year to provide free access to clean drinking water in student eating areas for the National School Lunch Program. During the fall of 2012, new students will be recruited to help monitor and calculate the savings in water, energy, and money. In the winter and spring of 2013, students will be recruited for outreach activities in their community to promote the importance of water conservation.
Hamilton High School East-Steinert
This suburban high school, located in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey, was selected because this school has an educational partnership between the students, parents, teachers, administrators and other community members to promote the finest education possible for their students. Students are encouraged to prepare themselves for a meaningful and productive future. Under Mr. Stuart Morgan’s guidance, the Water Champions Program was initially delivered through the Introduction to Graphics class. Introduction to Graphics is offered to Grades 9-12 and students of all abilities. This class is designed to teach students about letterpress printing, silkscreen printing, and photo technology. In addition, students learned how to utilize computer aided design and desktop publishing. During the spring of 2012, Mr. Morgan’s students designed a Water Champions logo for their school, brochures, jingles, posters, and t-shirts to support the Water Champions program.
During the summer of 2012, funding was provided to the school to install water-saving fixtures in several bathrooms. During the fall of 2012, new students will be recruited to help monitor and calculate the savings in water, energy, and money. In the winter and spring of 2013, students will be recruited for outreach activities in their community to promote the importance of water conservation.
Water Champions Program Resources
- EPA Background Information on Water Champions Presentation (PDF)
- EPA Water Champions Briefing Presentation (PDF)
- EPA Water Champions Flier (PDF)
- Water Champions General Brochure (PDF)
- Introduction to Water Champions Presentation (PDF)
- Water Champions Program Guide (PDF)