5th and 6th Graders Add Stormwater Quality to Curriculum

Students in the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) are developing and writing campus Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) as part of a year-long program.

Support and enhanced education is provided by the cities of Encinitas and Carlsbad, Encina Wastewater Authority, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and Dudek.

Students Become SWPPP Interns

Last year, EUSD hired Bill Dean owner of Dean & Associates, an environmental education firm, to pilot the campus SWPPP program. This year, the program expanded to five schools with more than 100 SWPPP “interns”, who are learning about causes of pollution, water quality management measures, and methods to implement and monitor the effectiveness of stormwater management measures.

They are now developing site-specific SWPPPs on their school campuses that incorporate topography, area use, and implementation details for stormwater quality improvement. Students study the campus storm drain infrastructure and how pollutants produced on campus end up in the ocean.

There are several Dudek volunteer instructors, and they share the belief that water quality education programs in schools are a great way to accomplish both education and public outreach, encouraging youths to take an active role in managing stormwater runoff in their local environment.

SWPPP Program Implementation

Dean said the biggest surprise was seeing how enthusiastic and dedicated the students are to improve water runoff from their campus. He offered the following advice to districts or schools interested in launching a similar campus SWPPP program:

  • Partner with local agencies and authorities, including the city, water districts, and local organizations and environmental firms.
  • Allow interns to develop solutions to reduce stormwater pollution on their campus.
  • Give interns the opportunity to present findings to one of the partner entities.
  • Continue education with follow up programs, such as designing and funding structural best management practices.

One campus SWPPP program was recently awarded the California Civic Learning Award of Excellence by the California Supreme Court Justice.