December, 2014 – Issue #11
Message from Cyane Dandridge
Despite the recent rains, water scarcity remains a major issue all over the world and one that affects us at home in California. The current drought has raised the public’s attention to issues related to surface and groundwater use, water conservation, water allocations and water rights. Recently passed Proposition 1 has been touted as a way to increase conservation efforts, and decrease drought, and I agree, but contingently. First, it is not funding that will immediately solve our water issues, but is a long term investment, or really a down payment on solving our water issues. It will be years before we see any relief relating to the Prop 1 funding. Second, 36% of the funds will go to water storage; only 1% of the funds are for water conservation and efficiency. For more information, I encourage you to read The Pacific Institute’s unbiased report
. We face a critical time, now, to develop interdisciplinary approaches to addressing water issues, as well as preparing an informed and skilled work force that can understand the science and politics that surround this issue.
SEI has always considered water to be an essential topic of sustainability. Our School and Home Water Audit curriculum provides teachers and students with the opportunity to explore water use and opportunities for efficiency and conservation. By completing water benchmarking for EAH, an affordable housing provider, we have been able to enhance the company’s understanding of water use in their facilities. We hope to enable students to understand the causes, consequences and opportunities presented by our current drought and water issues and are excited to embark on a new project with innovative partners in the West Valley Water Career Pathways Program.
Whether its training students to report water leaks, helping school districts draft and adopt water-related policy, or placing Fellows on water efficiency projects through our Climate Corps Bay Area Fellows program, SEI hopes to continue empowering local organizations, students, teachers and recent graduates to join us in addressing our severe, and growing, water issues.
West Valley Water Career Pathways
In light of the current drought in California, it is becoming more and more essential to ensure the next generation of the water industry workforce is equipped with the skills and conservation knowledge to sustainably supply water to California’s households, industries, and farms.
To this end, SEI is partnering with the West Valley College Water Career Pathways Program to develop water educational and career pathways from high school into college and careers. Our goals are to enhance student understanding of the importance of water systems and conservation through hands-on projects, develop student technical and professional skills, and to ensure the sustainability of our water systems are efficiently supported by a new generation of skilled young professionals.
This includes creating hands-on water curriculum that helps students understand water scarcity, the energy-water nexus, water history and policy, and water systems. SEI will also provide instructional support to teachers and facilitate student-led water conservation initiatives at school.
SEI will collaborate with water industry employers, schools, teachers, and community colleges to align standards and create clear pathways for students to pursue careers in the water sector. We hope this effort will lead to greater water conservation in schools and at home, a talented pool of applicants for water industry jobs, and younger generations with the skills to navigate the challenges of climate change and sustainably manage our water in California.
MarinSEL Students Clean & Protect Local Watersheds
Developing education and action around water issues is crucial in preparing a generation of aware and responsible citizens. This year the Marin School of Environmental Leadership
, SEI’s innovative magnet-style school within Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, is bringing water to the forefront of it’s progressive project-based curriculum. Every fall, our ninth and tenth grade students work in groups on a Leadership and Environmental Action Development Project (LEAD Project), which allows students to work with a community partner and parent mentor to identify and address an environmental issue in their community.
In continuation of a previous project, a tenth grade LEAD group worked with a community partner Judy Schriebman, of the Gallinas Watershed Council, to clean up the Gallinas Creek and prevent pollution from entering the watershed. Since last Spring, they have removed hundreds of pounds of trash from the creek and are working toward the installation of a trash boom to prevent litter from reaching San Pablo Bay. The students presented their trash boom proposal to the Marin County Watershed Program’s Project Coordination meeting on Wednesday, November 19th
A ninth grade LEAD group is helping the community to adopt water practices that better represent our climate and current drought. Working with community partner Emma Gildesgame, of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, and with help from the Marin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, this group has learned about native, drought-resistant plants and will install an educational native plant garden in front of Terra Linda High School. The goal is to demonstrate that homeowners in the community can build beautiful landscapes that provide habitat for pollinators, do not use too much water, and do not introduce nonnative species to the ecosystem.
The ninth grade Geography class is exploring water issues in-depth from different perspectives to represent California’s current water crisis. Students have split into groups focused on California water allocation policy, the economic and other impacts to agriculture, the ecological impacts related to drought, the consequence of over-using groundwater, and water storage and conveyance strategies. These groups will present to students acting as the “Department of Water Resources,” who will have to decide water policy based on these differing perspectives. The Marin School of Environmental Leadership is engaging its community to reflect on water use and work toward sustainable water management.
Meet Our Community
The Green Team at EAH Housing's
San Clemente Place in Corte Madera is made up of a diverse group of elementary and middle school aged boys and girls from the housing community. The Green Team members are inquisitive and energetic when learning through hands on activities related to water science and conservation. To begin, the Green Team created a poster with a number of ways that they commonly use water ranging from drinking to cooking to water used to create energy and the clothes they wear. After understanding the variety of ways in which water is used, SEI led a few experiments to illustrate important water concepts, including creating a model of the water cycle and illustrating how capillary action works in plants as they take up water with their roots.
The future holds great things for the Green Team. The members continue to put their youthful energy toward creating awareness around water issues, learning through hands on activities, and are starting a community water conservation competition. Soon the team will complete a poster of their recommendations on ways to conserve water and educate others in their community. They will also begin to engage others about water conservation awareness through a contest between buildings in the San Clemente Place housing community to see which can save the most water. Through EAH Housing's commitment to conserve water and the motivation of the young students in their housing communities, we are discovering new models for efficiency in multifamily housing.
Climate Corps Is Recurring
We’re recruiting for Climate Corps Bay Area Fellows to fill a number of East Bay-based climate protection roles. For more details, please click here
SEI Is Hiring!
SEI is seeking Environmental Education and Communications Fellows, as well as several volunteers to support our work in each of our primary focus areas: Eco-Smart Education, Green Housing, and Sustainable Communities. For more information and to apply, click here