Description of Program: The Water Wise Community program is a
water conservation program designed to assist area residents and businesses
in the Sierra Vista Sub-Watershed with good stewardship of our natural
resources. Water Wise provides educational outreach in the form of extension
bulletins; a phone "hotline" for questions; free on-site visits
called Water Audits; workshops; newspaper, radio and television information;
and community presentations.
The Water Wise Schools program is a curriculum-based educational water
conservation program targeting 5 district and 7 county grade schools (K-8).
The goal is to assist teachers in incorporating water education in the
classroom while addressing the Arizona standards in Language Arts, Math
and Science. This has been accomplished through use of specific curriculum
materials and lesson plans developed by The University of Arizona Cochise
County Cooperative Extension faculty. An Instructional Specialist is available
for presentations in area classrooms. Water Wise Family Science Nights
have afforded parents the opportunity to learn with their children. A
Water Conservation Poster Contest is held in the spring and there are
plans for a Water Festival to coincide with Water Awareness Week and Earth
Water Wise and Energy Smart is a water and energy conservation program
on Fort Huachuca. Ongoing programs include residential landscaping consultations,
school presentations (K-8), Self-Help Briefings, Water Wise Demonstration
Projects, self-guided tours of xeriscaped demonstration areas, public
speaking, displays at special events, educational bulletins and a phone
hotline for questions.
The Plant Sciences Center is a native plant salvage and revegetation
facility for locally displaced native plants due to development pressures.
Audience: The Water Wise programs serve all communities within
the Sierra Vista sub-watershed; Whetstone, Tombstone, Huachuca City, Bisbee,
St. David, Naco, Sierra Vista, Hereford, Palominas and the military community,
including soldiers and civilians working at Fort Huachuca. The various
programs include educational opportunities for adults and youth.
Current Status: The Water Wise programs currently employ ones
full time educator and four part-time educators. Three agents provide
oversight to the programs and develop materials for the programs. The
Water Wise programs are on a year-to year funding basis.
Impacts: Water Wise Community: No public figures for water conservation
are available, as the water companies are all privately owned. One of
the largest companies has reported continual declines per meter in water
use since 1996, one year after the implementation of the program. A recent
survey of auditees indicated that approximately 90% adopted some kind
of water conservation measures due to the on-site visit. Water is a very
visible issue with the continued growth in the area and the desire to
maintain the quality of our current ecosystems.
Water Wise Schools: In the first year of operation (1999-2000), twelve
of the thirteen targeted district and county schools have participated
in the water conservation program with requests for classroom presentations
or to co-sponsor a Family Science Night. The program's resources are most
used during April and May when standardized testing is completed. Comments,
letters and cards have been positive from principals, teachers and students.
The local newspapers have supported the program with feature stories and
Water Wise and Energy Smart: Since military families do not pay utility
bills, measurable impacts are difficult to assess. The number of people
requesting low-flow fixtures and low water use landscape audits has increased
due to the implementation of the self-help orientation briefings. School
children and soldiers are responsive to the message of water conservation
through the media and education programs. Reduced pumping rates on the
fort can be attributed in some part to the educational program, but specific
figures are not available.
Plant Sciences Center: After the construction of the Plant Sciences
Center, the Arizona Department of Transportation used the yard to house
over 2500 native plants displaced from a major road construction project.
The City of Sierra Vista adopted a native plant ordinance that required
developers to salvage native plants before construction. The Plant Sciences
Center has participated in several community replanting projects, one
of which saved the city from installing an irrigation system, resulting
in a cost savings of $95,000 and saving approximately 9.47 acre feet a
year in water.
Water Wise Community: The audit/outreach program has found that direct
one-on-one contact is what produces some kind of water conservation
behavior. Certainly the constant message of water conservation in the
news, radio and other public information outlets is important to keep
the message in the forefront of people's minds. However, it is our opinion,
that it is the change of habits or landscape watering techniques that
yields results and therefore the on-site audit is the most effective
part of the Water Wise Community program.
Water Wise Schools: The success of the program depends, not only
on the quality of the resources and presentation, but also on the constant
networking with various schools and personnel. Teachers in Cochise County
are feeling pressured more than ever to raise test scores. Time is precious
and requests for the water education curriculum are often seen as a
reward at the end of the year to give teachers a break and let kids
learn through hands-on activities. The Science Family Night is one approach
that allows teachers, students and parents to interact in a positive
way in a short period of quality time.
Water Wise and Energy Smart: Military personnel do not request water
or energy audits for their homes. Teachers initially needed constant
reminders that the Water Wise and Energy Smart curriculum caters to
their objectives for addressing Arizona State Education Standards in
several subject areas. Attending school staff meetings at the beginning
of the year is important to introduce the program and teacher surveys
have prompted a good response. Mandated self-help briefings are a good
way to capture the military family and get the conservation message
Plant Sciences Center: Many things have been learned from the handling
of salvaged native plants, and in the education of the public and city
workers. The Plant Sciences Center has a good working relationship with
local developers, resulting in the city ordinance being followed and
developers learning the value of previously discarded plants. Succulents
with spines are not always the plants of choice in city maintained landscapes,
but some have recognized their usefulness in areas without a ready source
of water. The response from the general public is positive; the city's
ordinance is a good public relations effort but more plants need to
be reused in area landscapes.
Various Extension bulletins on water conservation including watering
shrubs, trees, and lawns; water harvesting; backyard wildlife habitat;
For use with Water Wise Schools - Groundwater Flow Model, Enviroscape,
Cochise County Water History Trunk, Water Basics Learning Lab (3-4-5 grades),
and classroom lesson plans tailored to specific age groups based on the
Water Wise lessons (e.g. Go to the Head of the Cloud, Water Web of Life,
Water Watch, Dr. Drip's Water Trivia and appearances by Wettie the Waterdrop).
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