Atlanta Students Kick Off Be Water Wise Program

Students, with help from guests from the city of Atlanta, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, educational leaders and other organizations, undertook a water measurement water activity at Burgess-Peterson Academy to learn how to conserve resources and save money for their school as part of an innovative new program, Be Water Wise Atlanta.

“Atlanta is no longer in a drought, but that doesn’t mean that we can return to previous wasteful ways,” said City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a message about the program. ”Droughts are cyclical, and, sooner or later, we will face another one. That’s why I think it is imperative that we think of water conservation not as an occasional hardship but as new way to live our lives…Be Water Wise Atlanta offers our children an excellent start in this learning process.”

A project of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools and Johnson Controls, Inc., Be Water Wise Atlanta includes math, science and language activities that focus on water conservation. A water measurement activity is the first part of an 18-month environmental education program that engages students to research and develop strategies to save water – and money – at their schools. The Walmart Foundation also is supporting Be Water Wise Atlanta.

Atlanta faces unique challenges in water management. According to the U.S. Geological Society, Atlanta’s primary water sources are small and greatly affected by droughts. With more than 5 million inhabitants, the metro area has only one sizeable water stream, the Chattahoochee River. Sixteen counties that make up the North Georgia Water Planning District use 652 million gallons of water per day, most of which is consumed by households.

“Be Water Wise Atlanta gives students a chance to solve real-world problems that impact their schools and homes,” said Diane Wood, president of the National Environmental Education Foundation. “The program exemplifies the possibilities and power of environmental education.”

Johnson Controls provided Atlanta Public School teachers and custodians with training and materials in February, which also featured representatives from Georgia Project WET. Students will assess water use at schools by inspecting faucets, water fountains and other plumbing fixtures for flow rates and leaks. After analyzing results, students will offer water conservation ideas to city officials.

Fourteen Atlanta-area schools will take part in the project. Partnering organizations include: the Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Johnson Controls, Inc., Georgia Project WET, Conserve Water Georgia, Georgia Green and Healthy Schools, the Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Education Integrating Mathematics, Science and Computing (CEISMC) at Georgia Tech, the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, and the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability.

At the conclusion of the program, students will present their water conservation findings at an assembly before city leaders.

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