Wastewater education and outreach programs prepare region for climate change

“So many actions can help water quality in our streams, lakes, and rivers. That’s why the WaterWorks Program funds such a wide variety of projects,” Elizabeth Loudon, WaterWorks program manager, recently explained. “These projects also create multiple benefits. They bring communities together, restore and protect the environment, and help the region prepare for climate change.”

A future climate change problem-solver gives his neighborhood_s new raingarden a good soaking.

A future climate change problem-solver gives his neighborhood’s new raingarden a good soaking.

 

The WaterWorks Program awards grants for projects that benefit water quality in King County’s regional wastewater service area. Many of these projects also help King County’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for impacts of climate change. For example:

  • Planting trees reduces greenhouse gases and can keep rivers and creeks cooler as temperatures rise.
  • A natural side channel in the Green River can store flood waters to protect people from wetter winters and provide refuge for young salmon.
  • Using recycled water at a property farmed by Hmong families and at King County’s City Soil Farm helps the region prepare for drier summers. (And King County’s farm grows trees for habitat restoration sites, which will go on to reduce greenhouse gases.)
  • Creating stormwater curriculum for every 4th grader in Seattle prepares future “climate change problem-solvers”.

As Susan Tallarico, education and outreach supervisor, says, “People think if you simply give people information they will act more responsibly – not true. Educational programs need to be relevant to their lives, understandable, engaging, and accessible.”

WTD education programs teach the “people part” of the water cycle. By learning how they are connected to water quality in our region, participants begin to change their attitudes and behaviors in creating a better world, and that helps prepare for a changing climate.

Planting trees cools creeks and reduces greenhouse gases.

Planting trees cools creeks and reduces greenhouse gases.

One new educational project that King County WTD is working on with partners IslandWood, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Seattle School District will implement new curriculum that focuses on solutions to stormwater problems, one of our most challenging environmental issues in the region. The curriculum, which will be taught to every fourth grader in Seattle School district within the next two years, is relevant to kids because, as Tallarico says, “Kids can walk outside and look at water in their neighborhood. They can see problems and develop solutions.”

How can you get involved?
Important dates are coming up for the WTD WaterWorks and Education programs;
Four workshops in late May will provide information on applying for the grants. Letters of intent, the first part of the application process, are due on June 7. Non-profits, schools, tribes, cities, and special purpose districts, and King County departments are eligible to apply for WaterWorks grants. Contact Elizabeth Loudon 206-477-4297 or Julia Yen 206-477-9192 for questions about the program.

Upcoming education programs for families and adults can be found on the WTD education page under events.

kickoff4

A community-led environmental project along Hamm Creek was partially funded by a King County WaterWorks Grant

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