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Water Drops on Green Leaves by Gaetan_Lee. Some rights reserved.

Sprinkle some water knowledge in your classroom

As you teach or learn about water issues, you may find this water glossary by LennTech helpful

One of the most important fields opening up in environmentalism is
hydrology. You can explore hydrology concepts with students in your classroom and give them an edge in a world that will become increasingly more concerned with available water resources. Important hydrology concepts for students include water conservation, the water cycle, and water pollution issues.

So, bring water into the classroom with Project WET’s water education materials for teachers and Bridge’s ocean of free teacher-approved marine education resources. We also offer water-related curriculum through our own Curriculum Library.

An example of a good hands-on water lesson is Soda Bottle Hydrology, which shows how water moves into and through the ground and the environmental issues surrounding it.

For water conservation, a good piece is the leaky faucet lesson by NSF, which allows students to explore how much water can be wasted by even the slowest drips.

Other water education resources are available here from the USGS, including a groundwater atlas showing the country’s most important aquifers. Other USGS maps, such as these can be incorporated into classroom exercises where students are challenged to explore which states use more water than others for particular purposes.

Looking for a good story-book to teach your students about water pollution? All the way to the Ocean by Joel Harper explores the key concept of non-point source and storm-water pollution, something even most adults don’t think about. The book received a positive review by the Sierra Club and earned Green Earth Book Award Honors. It was manufactured using recycled paper and sustainably-harvested wood in a production process that saved 1,900 pounds of greenhouse gases from being emitted and 9,000 gallons of water over a traditional book production!

Your students can also learn about the water cycle and water issues through online games such as Ploppy by the Spanish Geological Survey and Ground Water Adventures by the National Ground Water Association.

If you still haven’t found the water education resource you need to teach or learn from, then check out Water Webster’s Education Site. It has educational materials for kids and adults!

Water quality issues and the health of students, teachers, and staff

Are you worried about the water quality in your school? Before you get too concerned, upload your knowledge about potential water contaminants and the different water treatment options by reading EXTOXNET’s
fact sheets. You can also reference EPA’s database for more on each individual chemical’s exposure levels, and the methods through which it can contaminate water.

Upload knowledge about your local water supply by using the EPA’s Surf Your Watershed tool. You can search for data about your watershed by simply typing in your zip code or by including more specific geographic information. The site gives you information about which citizen groups are at work in the watershed, water quality data, and details about impaired water in the watershed.

If you’re concerned about how healthy your water is, like most of us are, take it upon yourself to be part of the solution! Think about what you typically pour down the drain or flush down the toilet. Planet Green reminds us that in many closed loop water systems, waste water ends up back in the same lake or reservoir that supplies our fresh water. Sure, that water is usually treated, but it doesn’t mean that what you poured down the drain doesn’t come back to you diluted. The take-home lesson is… don't spike the punch.

To take action against any contaminant you think may be a threat, you should first try contacting your local or state water agencies to see what testing services they offer. Check out this link from WaterWebster to get started. You can also order low-cost lab tests for lead, copper, and arsenic from Leadtesting.org. For more information about lead specifically, read our chapter, Lead the Fight Against Lead.

Is tap water or bottled water healthier? Are you confused by the ongoing debate about which is better? For your personal health, there are pros and cons for each. The pros of bottled water include less of a risk of lead contamination from pipes, solder, and brass fittings in your plumbing system. Some argue that it also has less of a risk of having medications and other unintended materials leached into it. However, The Environmental Working Group recently commissioned a lab study that found 38 chemical pollutants in 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water. The brands had an average of eight contaminents each.

The general consensus is still that tap water is healthier, according to Discovery.com. Moreover, a commonly overlooked benefit is that many tap water supplies have added fluoride, which is good for strong teeth and preventing tooth decay, especially in children. But despite the pros and cons to human health of both bottled and tap water, one thing is clear: tap water is better for the environment because it does not need to be stored in plastic, shipped long distances, or extracted in too high a concentration from a single aquifer source.