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Stormwater Case Studies Search Results

Case Study Location: Colorado: Boulder

Case Study Title: Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts

Minimum Control Measure: Public involvement/participation

H20 FlyerThe Boulder Creek and Saint Vrain Watershed WASH Project has two principle components to their education and outreach program: a school based WatershED Program and a community outreach program. The school based WatershED includes water curriculum, teacher training, water festival, and classroom programs. The community-based programs include water quality campaigns, brochures, tributary signs and more. This case study will highlight the school based program.

Location: Colorado: Boulder
Annual Rainfall: 20 inches
Population: 94,673 (2000 Census)
Year the Program Started: 1995

Contact Information:

Curry Rosato
Watershed Outreach Coordinator
City of Boulder Exit EPA Site
4049 North 75th St
Boulder, CO 80301
Phone: (303) 413-7365  


WASH Teacher Training Announcement

The WASH "Get to Know your H2O" school-based education program is an expansion of the city of Boulder's stormwater public outreach program. The program includes four principle components: water curriculum, teacher training, water festival and classroom programs. The WASH education and outreach program creates activities that can be shared with many citizens, yet are still effective. The WASH Project has found that the teacher training workshops and the Children's Water Festival are great ways to spend a bit of time helping people learn about their local waters and give them the tools to complete activities on their own or back in the classroom.

Annual Teacher Training Workshop

Each year, WASH holds a free, 2-day workshop for about 20 teachers to provide them with the background information needed to teach water education lessons to their students. They cover how to map a watershed, use the enviroscape model, and mark storm drains. They also take the teachers out into the field to conduct water quality testing so the teachers will feel comfortable with the process and equipment. During the field portion of the workshop, they cover how to test for pH, nitrate, and dissolved oxygen and identify macro-invertebrates.

Each teacher also receives WatershED, an award winning, standards-based resource guide that includes information and activities specific to the Boulder and St. Vrain watersheds. It is a collection of innovative, water-related activities that are interdisciplinary, hands-on, and easy to use.

K-12 Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley School District teachers receive an email announcing the 2-day training. Nineteen teachers attended the 2003 training. These teachers taught more than 620 students in the 2003-2004 school year.

WatershED Curriculum

WASH Teacher's Resource Guide Cover PageIn 1995, with the help of 319(h) funds, a teacher was able to develop the original curriculum for grades 4-12 in about a year. After several revisions to make the activities match their water education goals and school district standards, the WASH Project continues to provide this resource to participating teachers. WatershED is an earth science approach to learning about the interconnections between water, ecology, geology, and human influence. The curriculum meets science, math, social studies, and language arts standards. The WatershED booklet contains a section on basic watershed principles (the water balance, what is ecology, water quality, and stormwater) and a section with lesson plans. The lesson plans have three levels of activities, depending on how in-depth the teacher wants to take their students. The booklet also contains activity sheets for videos, discussion questions, and worksheets. Teachers also can check out testing equipment to gather water quality data with their students. Then, they input their water quality data into an online database Exit EPA Site.


The WASH water educators also go out into the community to teach them about stormwater pollution prevention. They give presentations and puppet shows to K-12 classrooms, community groups, and the public at local festivals. During the 2003-2004 school year, they presented 99 programs and reached more than 4,321 students.

Children's Water Festival

The Boulder Valley School District Children's Water Festival allows WASH to reach more than 900 students each year. Teachers can sign up to just attend the festival or to get their class more involved. If the teacher chooses to get their students more involved, WASH supplies them with a Water Notebook to help them complete five activities in the weeks before the festival and free tee shirts. Most of the activities are take home and involve the family. In addition, the teachers are asked to designate one day a week to be "Water Day". On this day, students and teachers wear their water festival t-shirts, which helps advertise the festival and get the message out to parents. In addition, on "Water Day" students complete an activity or a watershed project from a list of suggested projects included in the Water Notebook.

WASH also participates in the St. Vrain Valley School district water festival organized by the city of Longmont. Over 900 students attended the 2004 festival.

A Recent Partnership

Boulder County; the cities of Boulder, Longmont, and Louisville; and the town of Erie and Superior have all partnered together to create the Watershed Approach to Stream Health (WASH) Project. The goal of the WASH Project is to implement a regional stormwater management program. The partners entered into a 5-year intergovernmental agreement (IGA), which outlined the terms that will enable them to comply with their joint stormwater permit. They have a steering committee with one voting representative from each community.

They developed a plan that describes how each state-required minimum control measure will be addressed. It calls for the use of common themes and elements throughout the watershed, including the development of a common stormwater ordinance language for commercial and residential activities last year. This year, each Partner will be responsible for adopting the ordinances.

The WASH programs emphasize cost-effectiveness by using and strengthening existing programs and sharing in the development of new, regional programs. The city of Boulder started participating in the development of WASH in 1999 and signed the IGA in 2003. The WASH Project contracted with the city of Boulder's stormwater public outreach program to conduct education and outreach throughout the two watersheds. The program has the equivalent of two full time employees.

What's Next?

With a $57,000 Colorado 319 grant, the WASH Project team expanded their education program to include a new communications campaign for cleaning up after pets, vehicle maintenance, and using fertilizers; new mascots; and new outreach products, including print ads, bus ads, tributary signs, and other give-aways. In addition, they will be putting all printed materials on a CD-ROM to be given to all WASH Partners and other community and watershed groups throughout Colorado.

Effectiveness of the Program

The WASH Education program uses a variety of tools to gain feedback on program effectiveness. Teachers complete evaluations after each classroom program and mail them back to the WASH education office. To date, teachers report that the hands-on, interactive aspects of the program help students understand the connection between personal behaviors and water quality protection. Teachers have commented that the program helped make the concept of watersheds clear, helped generate awareness for pollutants, and is relevant to students daily activities.

Teachers also complete evaluations after the WatershED Teacher Training. In 2004, all participating teachers reported that their knowledge of water and water quality issues increased as a result of the training.

Both students and teachers complete evaluations for the Annual Children's Water Festival. In 2004, 79 percent of students said they will change the way they use water, and teachers report the students learned a great deal about water.

In the coming year the City plans to use pre- and post-program quizzes and community surveys to gain measurable program results.

Additional Materials Related to this Case Study:

Additional Resources and Tools for this Minimum Control Measure

EPA presents this case study as an example to which Phase I and Phase II municipal stormwater programs can refer as they develop their own stormwater programs. Although EPA has reviewed the case studies, they should not be considered officially endorsed by the Agency and are not intended to represent full compliance with EPA’s stormwater Phase II minimum control measures. Each community must decide on the appropriate BMPs necessary to meet its unique permit requirements and local conditions.

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