Small actions can add up to make big differences when it comes to protecting our water.
The Forest to Faucet Program offers teachers a variety of resources to help instruct and engage students in the importance of protecting our freshwater resources. The lesson plans below focus on watersheds, the importance of water quality, the role of forests, and everyday water conservation actions.
What exactly is a watershed? Since any area of land that drains into a common water body can be considered a watershed, they come in many shapes and sizes. Watersheds are critical because they influence the quality and quantity of our drinking water; changes in land use can alter the natural water cycles that characterize any given watershed.
- NJDEP Division of Watershed Management - An overview of watershed basics, including how groundwater and land use change play a role and what you can do to protect your watershed.
- USGS Water Science for Schools - A website that defines a watershed, outlines water cycle components, and provides links to information about rainfall, flooding, evaporation, and water storage.
- In-depth EPA Watershed Ecology module - A presentation that describes watershed structure and function and includes diagrams on watershed processes, as well as a self-test.
- NJDEP Water Wash lesson - A one-hour lesson plan to illustrate watershed function, ground water contributions, flooding, and nonpoint source pollution.
- PBS and its Watershed Quest - A website explaining the concept of a quest and a one-hour lesson plan that enables students to explore their watershed and water movement using topographic maps.
Clean water is essential to all life. But which aspects of water quality are most critical to understand in order to ensure safe drinking water? From the different types of pollution sources, such as point-source and non-point source runoff, to basic water quality parameters like temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH, the links below provide information on the basics and how to engage your students in these topics.
- USGS Water Science for Schools - A website with a diagram and links to more information about different sources and types of water pollution.
- EPA Educator Resources - An index with links to how we measure and determine water quality, three main pollutants, the sources of these pollutants, ways to test your knowledge, and ways to help.
- Earth Force Water Quality Indicators - A document explaining basic water quality parameters and why they matter.
- What’s in Your Water Lesson Plans- A document explaining a the history of water quality legislation and issues in the U.S.; Four 60-minute lesson plans on water quality concepts and testing.
- Penn State School of Forest Resources- Water Quality - A field (3-4 hour) and lab (45 minute) lesson plan for testing water quality.
- Water Quality Indicators - A document explaining water quality basics and including a three-part lesson plan to understand biological, chemical, and physical parameters of water quality.
Forests as Filters
Many of us do not realize how important forests are for ensuring our freshwater supplies. How do forests help protect our drinking water? Forests in source water areas slow down rainfall and help rain to soak through the ground, replenishing our underground aquifers. Anywhere forests exist, including further downstream in floodplains, their roots also help ensure a healthy forest floor that captures and filters pollutants like excess nitrogen and sediments.
- State of the World’s Forests - A document summarizing the role of forests in the sustainable use and management of freshwater resources.
- Watershed Forestry Resource Guide - A descriptive webpage that explains the connection between forests and drinking water and provides links to various studies.
- Value of Streamside Forests - A Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service webpage that explains how riparian forests help protect water resources.
Whether small or large, our actions can add up to help protect healthy forests, healthy watersheds, and healthy water supplies. Supporting conservation efforts that benefit forests and water resources is one of many ways to help protect your drinking water. But you and your students can take a variety of actions each day to help reduce water use and prevent pollution, helping to maximize the amounts of fresh, clean water available for people and nature.
- EPA Projects and Do's and Dont's - Two websites: the first with 12 suggestions to help and illustrative project ideas and the second with tips to help protect surface and ground waters from nonpoint source pollution.
- NJDEP The Clean Water Book Choices for Watershed Protection - An index with information on what you can do to help in different ways.
- Clean Water NJ - A website with links to tips on what you can do to protect your water and great illustrative photos available for download.
- Become a Creek Freak - A project of the Izaak Walton League of America that provides the information and tools you need to lead hands-on activities to encourage kids to explore streams and become local advocates for improving water quality.
- Izaak Walton Save our Streams - Project ideas for monitoring water quality, cleaning up and stabilizing streams, and solving watershed problems, with links to further resources.
- Holding onto the Green Zone: Leader Guide -A curriculum document that includes activities and supplemental information about water quality, quantity, and the importance of ripararian areas
For further information from additional local sources:
- Educator Resources Guide - A directory that lists water resource-related materials and programs available from local non-profits and governmental agencies.
March 10, 2013