Our Blue Horizon: Children and the Future of Water

Post by Project WET Foundation President and CEO Dennis Nelson on how the future of water depends on educating today's young people. 

5GCKK7n.jpgExperts predict that by 2025, more than half of the people in the world will live in countries that are classified as “water-stressed” or “water-scarce.” What does that mean for today’s children, who will come of age in this new reality?

Well, if they are empowered with effective awareness and education about water resources, it could mean that they will lead the way toward a society committed to the conservation, management and protection of our precious water resources.

In Arizona, for example, I can see approximately 31 million reasons to be optimistic. That’s how many gallons of water 5,000 Arizona elementary and middle school students have helped save each year by taking one simple action: checking the faucets in their schools and installing water-efficient aerators where they are needed. The faucet project is part of the Arizona Project WET School Water Audit Program (SWAP), a larger effort to help teachers empower students to make small changes that can add up to real water savings.

SWAP, a state extension of the Project WET Foundation’s Conserve Water program, guides educators on how to conduct thorough indoor and outdoor water audits at schools. Kids learn everything from determining outdoor irrigation efficiency to uncovering water leaks in the cafeteria. Then they take those lessons home.

One Arizona middle school parent said that her daughter “would come home and tell us all about” her lessons in SWAP:

“She knew the information. When she brought the testing materials home, she went to work the minute her homework was completed. She installed the water aerators on the sinks and has been using the timer for her showers, which is amazing because she likes long showers. She reminds anyone who leaves the water running that we need to conserve water. This has been a wonderful experience for her that I am sure she will utilize her whole life.”

Indeed, a study conducted by researchers from Imperial College London and published on Environmental ResearchWeb in February 2013 shows that conservation-themed lessons for children not only increase knowledge about issues, but can also influence behavior among both children and parents. With approximately 50 million school-aged children in the United States, the potential for positive influence is enormous. If we can start to reach younger children as well, through age-appropriate early childhood water education programs, we could add another 25 million small-but-mighty game-changers to our water future.

Effective education about water — combined with appropriate, relevant actions supported by teachers, schools and the larger community — could make the difference between a future in which water issues represent a terrible burden for our children in water crisis areas of the world or one in which they understand and can contribute solutions to the water issues that arise. The choice is ours — and that is a challenge we all should embrace.

 

Source: our water counts 

About the Author: 

Dennis Nelson is the president, CEO and founder of the Project Water Education for Teachers (WET) Foundation, a U.S. 501(c)(3) organization that develops and delivers water resources education across the United States and in 60 countries around the world. Learn more at projectwet.org.