Wheels to Water: Breaking Down Barriers to Education Opportunities  

Each year, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) education team provides field trip programs that bring thousands of K-12 students to WTD facilities. Students come from school districts all over King County – Kent, Auburn, Seattle, White Center, Seattle, Shoreline, Bothell and more – to participate in water-focused education programs.

For many teachers, planning their yearly field trips and paying for transportation can be a major obstacle and can prevent schools from attending the programs.  “It can be extremely challenging to find a bus or someone to drive the bus for field trips.” Says Andrea Gollob, 5th grade teacher from Highlands Elementary in Renton. 

King County WTD has a long-standing partnership with King County Metro Transit which overcomes these transportation barriers through the Wheels to Water program. Wheels to Water provides free bus transportation or transportation reimbursement to low-income schools that need it the most. In an average year, approximately 3,000 students from low-income schools use the Wheels to Water program to attend field trip programs for free.

“Wheels to Water provides opportunity and access to students who are from low social economic areas. It allows them to have experiences they otherwise wouldn’t get to have.”  Says Michelle Schram, 5th/6th grade teacher from Neely O’Brien Elementary in Kent.

The Wheels to Water program began as a pilot program in the late 1990s and for over two-decades has moved thousands of students all over the county. Because of Wheels to Water, students can attend programs where they can experience a wastewater treatment plant firsthand, explore local stormwater solutions, learn about careers that help keep water clean, and learn how the choices they make daily impact the water cycle.

“Wheels to Water was both a necessity and a fun experience for our students. Students are excited when the Metro buses show up at our school!” says Wil Depusoy, 4th grade teacher from Dunlap Elementary in Seattle.   

Program and Field Trip Opportunities

In memory of Glenn Bartolome, System Impacts & Events Coordinator, King County Metro and Denise Chanez, OIT Training Coordinator, King County WTD who deeply cared about and supported education at King County.