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<title>What's Up With Our Nation's Waters?</title>
<type>single page tiff</type>
<keyword>water points ground watershed www dirt add information wetlands family subtract wetland drain visit storm stream gov kids out waters</keyword>

United States
Environmental Protection
Office of Water
Washington, DC 20460
May 2001
                              Maf fon's tai,

The Big Three Pollufawfs
For tihte waterbodies listed as IMPAIRED in
the National Water Quality Inventory, the top
three pollutants causing problems  are dirt,
bacteria, and nutrients.
     t- Hi it -"HP"1 *
   jcdastal waters. Remem
                                                          Bacteria, specifically fecal coliforms (which
                                                                  d in the intestines of humans and
                                                                          i&4li&t*tNiiiliii!;?Kfl33tt&«6&&&*]F3ff&PS3' \
                                                                ;est water quality problem in our
                                                                                  i    -   i    .
                                                                    not all bacteria are harmful
           That's right, dirt. Dirt was
           listed as the number one
   (yogurt contains live bacteria cultures!), but the presence of
Pfecal'coTifbrmsls a clue tRat otfier germs" and viruses that can
 make you sick might be in the water too.
    ere do tirie bacteria come from?
   .ejnaajor sources of fecal coliform bacteria are failing septic
    items, dTscharges fronTsewage treatment plants, and* live-
  stock operations.
cause of pollution in our rivers and
streams. When rain washes dirt into
streams and rivers, it smothers the little
critters in the stream and kills any fish
eggs dinging to rocks. Dirt can also clog the
gills of fish, suffocating them. Have you ever           ^       _ _
walked into a pond or lake and noticed huge    ^eommunffieTare educating residents about how to main-
swirls of muck rising up and douding your view   "r—lalnseptic^ystelnsrijve^tock owners are developing
of die bottom? Well, if the plants that use the sun    X'' ^e^w^^manage their animal manure. Many
to make food (yes, thaf s right, photosynthesis) can't  ^^ommSuSfeies now'require owners to pick
get enough sunlight because the water is murky, they die.
                                                          one to control bacteria?
                                                    It^nsiSejJipg^dln^iSeirs^wage treatmehfplants
                                                              of untreated sewage into coastal waters.
                                                           Up"*arter their "pets Idog waste
Where does all this dirt come from?
Most of the dirt washing into lakes and streams comes from activities
that remove trees and shrubs and leave the earth exposed. This exposed earth
includes fields that have just been plowed, construction sites that have been
bulldozed, and areas that have been logged or mined. Bare patches in your
lawn or ballfield can also contribute to the problem. Some of the dirt polluting
streams comes from the stream banks. The problem is that fast-moving water
erodes the banks of streams. The water moves faster because the vegetation
that would slow it down has been replaced with pavement and buildings.
What's being done to control dirt?
The solution is to stop the dirt from getting into the stream in the
first place by disturbing the land as little as possible. Farmers are
using different methods to grow their crops so they leave less earth
exposed, and they plant grasses in fields that aren't being used
Construction workers are putting up silt fences and hay bales
to trap the dirt and contain it while they build.  Developers
can design new home sites that leave more natural areas
and less pavement to reduce the amount of earth       -
                                Nutrients were listed as the
                               number one cause of water
                              quality pollution in our lakes,
                           ; £. ponds, and reservoirs. They caused |
                             impairment in more than 3.5 mil-
                         *  lion acres! (That's more than 2.6
                        "  million football fields!) The two most |
                          common nutrients are nitrogen and
                        phosphorus, which cause algae to grow
                      and can turn the water green.
                   Where do nutrients come from?
                The major sources of nutrients are agricultural
             activities (fertilizers and animal waste), failing
    "^X. _ s!-ur  '   :.      ,              ..-,  ^^^Aseptic systems, and homeowner activities (like overfer-
   "^<J|	^§T™^|	'^^^''^^^S^^S^^U^^^^^l.	"	
                     Farmers are learning new ways to apply fertilizer so they don't use more than they need.
                       Ranchers are managing livestock waste and fencing off streams from their livestock.
                          Homeowners are being educated to use lawn fertilizers carefully, and communities
                              are educating residents about proper septic system maintenance.      ,/

         are These P°lluf anf s coding $r<>wi?
True or false? Factories are the major source of pollutants in our waters.

False. Thirty years ago that statement was true, but since then we've made a lot of progress cutting
down on pollution from factories and sewage treatment plants. Although these can stiU pollute in
some areas, today most of the problems in our waters comes from polluted runoff draining into
rivers, lakes, and bays after a rain storm. Rain washing over the landscape carries dirt, oil, fertilizer,
pesticides, animal waste and many other substances off streets and farms and into our waters.
As we pave over natural areas to make parking lots, driveways and roads (known as impervious
surfaces) the rainwater doesn't slowly soak into the ground like it used to. Instead it's channeled
into gutters, culverts, and storm drains. These tend to be convenient places for people to illegally
                                   dump used motor oil, trash, and yard waste. These pollut-
                                    ants then are whisked directly into our streams, wetlands,
                                    bays, and lakes.

                                    And there's more. All over the country, streams have been
                                    straightened and physically altered to flow in a certain
                                    direction; some have been lined with concrete. This makes
                                    water rush faster after a rainstorm (increasing erosion)
                                    and makes it difficult or impossible for plants and aquatic

f roof or a
                                                   creatures to live and thrive. Wetlands
                                                   have been dredged and filled to make
                                                   way for houses, golf courses, and shop-
                                                   ping malls. Dams constructed to control
                                                   the flow of water also prevent migratory
                                                   fish, such as salmon, shad and sturgeon,
                                                   from swimming upstream to spawn.

      prp^imiBMBhBa^imi»nma!i^li.»»i^a,.i.... .•«a«Wn,rfpaj«s»i.ii-=i •="	,,>».-»"•-.-. ,m,,.—• j ....		
  e all need to work together to reduce
and prevent polluted runoff. For exam-
ple, the federal government works to
ensure that lands belonging to the gov-
ernment are properly managed to cut
down on soil erosion. Farmers are learn-
ing^ how to manage their land, crops,
and animals to keep them from affecting
nearby waters. Your city, town or county
has local" laws controlling what can be
built where, and how construction sites
should be managed to keep rainwater
from washing bare dirt away. You can
play an important role by practicing
wafer ccmsefvltion and by changing cer-
tain everyday habits (see What Can I
Do??? on p. 11)7
As for all those straightened and chan-
neled streams and impervious surfaces,
prevention is the key. Once a stream has
been altered or an area has been paved
over, it's very difficult (and it costs a lot
of money) to undo the damage. Some
communities are beginning to realize the
value of clustering new buildings where
roads and paved areas already exist,
arid leaving open spaces like woods
an3 farmlandalone. Laws that make it
illegal to drain or fill a wetland are
being enforced. And many streams that
were altered in the past are now being
restored to flow in a more natural way.

             Wetlands are a very important
            part of the environment. They
          help slow down and clean up pol-
         luted runoff from the land and pro-
       vide habitat for animals. You will
 find wetlands in areas where water covers
 the soil or is present at or near the ground
 surface for part or all of the year. Some-
 times a wetland will actually appear dry at
 certain times of the year! You can often tell
 if something is a wetland by the types of
 plants that are growing in it. Most of these
 plants, like cattails and swamp roses, are
 adapted to living in the water and can't live
 in dry soil for very long.
f f or
                                    Over one-third of all the threatened and endangered
                                    species live in wetlands, and nearly half use wetlands at
                                    some time in their lives.
 Wetlands as sponges
 Have you ever poured water onto a damp sponge? The sponge will hold a
 lot of water before it slowly starts to leak. The same happens in a wetland.
 A wetland will trap runoff water that flows into it during a rainstorm and
 will slowly release the water later. This helps to prevent flooding.
 Wetlands as filters
 After being trapped by the wetland sponge, polluted runoff water moves
 slowly through a wetland, finding its way around plants and through
 small spaces in the soil. While it moves, the nutrients are absorbed by
 the plant roots that poke through the soil spaces. Some spaces are very
 small and pollutants get trapped. Sometimes the pollutants just stick to
 the soil. By the time the water leaves the wetland it is much cleaner than
 it was when it entered. This is why many people think of wetlands as
 nature's filter system.
 Wetlands as habitat
 Wetlands are home to many types of macroinvertebrates,
 fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles.
 These animals rely on the plentiful food, water,
 and shelter that the wetland offers. While
 some animals spend their whole lives
 in a wetland, many use it only for
 a particular time in their lives,
such as for hatching eggs and
raising young.


                                is Gr«on<f
                 Ground water is the water
                that is found beneath the
              earth's surface. Have you ever
             driven on a road cut along
          the side of a hill and seen what
looked like layers inside the earth? If we
could see the ground beneath us, it would look
very similar. The top layer of earth is dirt, but
as you get deeper, the dirt changes into layers
of solid rock. Believe it or not, each of these
layers has many small spaces and cracks filled
with water. Ground water moves slowly as it
finds its way from space to space in the rock.

Why is Ground Wafer Iwjporfanf?
Ground water is an important water source
for all of us. The United States  uses about
77,500 million gallons of ground water each
day for all sorts of uses like drinking water,
washing clothes, watering crops, and making
food products. Over half of the people in the
U.S. rely on ground water for drinking.

Is our Ground Wafer  clean?
States report that their ground water quality
is good overall. Unfortunately,  many states do
have areas with polluted ground water. The
most commonly cited pollutants in ground
water include manufactured compunds (like
gasoline products) and nitrates.

Whaf causes Ground Wafer

States report that most pollution is  caused by
gasoline and other fuels that leak from tanks
buried underground. Gas stations aren't the
only places with buried tanks. People who use
oil for heat in the winter often have tanks
buried in their backyards. Other potential pol-
lution sources that you can't see include leaky
septic systems and leaky landfills.
Ground water pollution can also begin above
ground. If man-made ponds that are used to
treat wastewater are not properly installed and
maintained, they can leak polluted water into
the ground. Pollution such as chemicals spilled
on the ground, bacteria and nutrients from live-
stock areas, and pesticides and nutrients from
farmland can also seep down to the ground water.

can We 9>c f He Problems?
Sometimes ground water pollution is caused by
different types of sources that slowly leak a little
pollution. Because the sources are spread out,
environmental managers have a difficult time
finding and controlling the pollution. In other
cases, one pollution source (such as a buried fuel
tank) can leak a large amount of pollution into
the ground water. Once this pollution is discovered,
environmental managers can often pinpoint the
source and stop the pollution. However, even if a
source is pinpointed and removed, the pollution
already in the ground water is difficult to dean up.
Therefore, the best way to fix ground water pollution
is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Whaf caw I do f o Prof ecf My
First of all, become informed. A great place to
start is EPA's ground water and drinking water
homepage at Does your
drinking water come from ground water? How
often is it tested? What products in use around
your house (paints, cleaners, lawn chemicals)
could pollute your ground water if they were
poured down the drain or dumped outside?
What activities on the land might affect your
ground water quality? Next, do something with
what you've learned. Encourage your family to
switch to environmentally safe products. Help
others learn about the importance of ground
water through a class project or a booth at a
fair. Visit the Ground Water Foundation's web
site at for more ideas and
information on the annual Children's Ground
Water Festival and Ground Water University.

                             caw  I  do???
         hese problems didn't happen overnight,, so it's going
         to take time to clean them up. People in your state
    ^    and county are doing lots of things to keep waters
 healthy, but they can't do it all. Do you think someone is
 watching how much fertilizer your mom puts on her garden
 or whether you pick up after your pup? Everyone's actions
 every day can make the difference. Here are 12 ideas to get
 you started, but don't stop there!
 1. Survey your home. Before
 we can come up with solutions,
 we have to know the problems.
 Use the survey at the end of
 this booklet to see how you and
 your family rate and how you
 can help be part of the solution
 instead of part of the problem.

 2. Conserve water—inside and
 out. By conserving the amount
 of water we use, we reduce the
 amount that needs to be treated.
  • Check to see if your toilets
    are leaking. Squirt a couple
    drops of food dye into the
    top of the tank and wait a
    few minutes to see if the dye
    shows up in the toilet bowl. If
    it does, you've got a leak.
  • Help your family install low-
    flow devices for your showers
    and toilets that reduce the
    amount of water used.
  • Water the lawn early in
    the morning or in the eve-
    ning to reduce evaporation
    and increase the amount the
    plants drink. Make sure the
    sprinkler isn't also watering
    the driveway or sidewalk.

 3. Love your lawn—naturally.
Ask your parents to convert
some of the grassed areas in
 your yard into natural areas.
 This eliminates the need for
 fertilizers, provides habitat for
 birds and animals, and frees
 up your time from mowing the
 lawn. Where you do have to
 mow, leave the grass clippings
 on the lawn to provide natural
 fertilizer to the grass, and let the
 grass grow to at least 3 inches
 before you cut it.

 4. Build a com-
 post pile. Com-
 posting yard and
 food wastes is a
 great way to make
 your own organic
 fertilizer and reduce
 waste that goes into
 landfills. Be sure to
 keep meat and dairy
 products out of your
 compost pile—they can
 attract rodents. Call
 1-888-LANDCARE for
 more information on backyard
 conservation or go to and click on
 "Backyard Conservation."

 5. Take a day off each week
 from using cars. Many of the
metals and pollutants that wash
into streams come from our
  cars—copper from brake pads,
  cadmium from tires, oil from
  the crankcase. Get your whole
  family involved. Ride bikes,
  walk, or take public transporta-
  tion at least one day a week.
  Convince your parents to treat
  to you to a movie with all the
  money they save in gas.

  6. Stop storm drain pollution.
  Those hollow drains along your
  curb are meant to carry storm
 water off the street during heavy
 rains.  Chances are that whatever
 goes into a storm drain winds
 up in your local stream. Storm
 drain stenciling is a good way
 to let others know not to dump
 anything down there such as
 oil, leaves, pet waste, grass clip-
 pings, or cigarette butts. Pro-
 duce and distribute a door
 hanger or flyer for local house-
 holds to make them aware of
 your stencilling
project and remind them that
storm drains dump directly
to the local waterbody. Visit
www. earthwater-stencils. com
for more information on how
to do a storm drain stenciling

7. Dispose of hazardous       9. Participate in the Interna-
wasteproperly. We're not talk-  tional Coastal Cleanup. The
ing about drums of nuclear       annual event is sponsored by the
waste. We're talking car bat-      Center for Marine Conservation
teries, solvents, pesticides and    every September. For more infor-
cans of oil-based paint. Contact   mation call (800) CMC-BEACH
         your local waste       or visit www. one-ocean, org.
                               10. Get informed. Knowledge
                                                is one of die
                                              /  most powerful
                                                tools around.
                                                Find out all
                                               you can about
                                              your water-
                                              shed. What are
                                            "  the boundaries?
                                           |  Where does
                                           I   your  drinking
                                             water come
                                        from? How is it
                               treated? Get a copy  of your
                               state's water quality report
                                ( to
                               find out the major water quality
                               issues in your area. A good
                               starting place is EPA's Water-
                               shed Information Network at
                                11. Enter the River of Words
                               Poetry and Art Contest.
                                Co-sponsored by the Library
                                of Congress and  United
                                States Poet Laure-
collection facility to
find out how to handle these
materials. Many facilities have
free collection days when you
can bring in these materials
for disposal.
8. Adopt a stream. Find out
if there is a volunteer monitor-
ing organization or watershed
group in your community—and
join it. If not, start one as part
of your science class or other
local organization. Check out
EPA's web site (
adopt) for a list of watershed
groups in your community.
Read EPA's brochure Getting
Started in Volunteer Monitoring
                                                               ate (1995-1997) Robert Haas,
                                                               the River of Words Poetry and
                                                               Art Contest seeks to foster
                                                               responsibility, imagination and
                                                               action in young people and
                                                               to publicly acknowledge their
                                                               creativity and concerns. Visit
                                                     , send an
                                                               email to,
                                                               or call (510) 548-POEM.

                                                               12. Spread the word. Once
                                                               you've learned about your
                                                               watershed and its major water
                                                               quality issues, tell others. Make
                                                               a presentation in your school.
                                                               Write an article for your school
                                                               or community newspaper. Orga-
                                                               nize an environmental fair
                                                               at your school. Contact the
                                                               Water Environment Federation
                                                               at 1-800-858-4844 for a guide
                                                               on hosting a watershed festival.
                                                               The Groundwater Foundation
                                                               (1-800-858-4844) also has sev-
                                                               eral guides on hosting water
                                                               festivals, including Making More
                                                               Waves: Ideas from Across the U.S.
                                                               and Canada for Organizing Your
                                                               Watershed Festival.
                                               There's a wcf h<M fo -fiiis ma<toess:
                                               " *J^?'F?^^^	iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimiBwiiimmniiiiii  i  i ————••••
                                                 How to  use the scientific  method!
                                                   ' projects that you can <
                       The following pages contain	    	            	_^	
                       starting any of them, check with your parent or teacher first. These projects are designed
                       to increase your awareness and concern for the environment. Make sure you share what you
                       learn with your family and friends.
                                                     •  •.    -, .:.;.,;	;;:,;:"-.-'•,, . ',::; -.E i-.-V'.-M	v-.'.Jii^'n',1	fiJBiicsH^^ijjiTiBjitfciiii!
                       Scientists use the scientific method to solve problems. For each of the projects listed in this
                       report follow the same steps:
            Describe a
            problem and
            formulate a
            question to
                         State your hypothesis.
                         A hypothesis is a
                         statement that pre-
                         dicts what you think
                         will happen.
Conduct the
Make observa-
tions about what
is happening.
                                                            Analyze the
 State your conclusion. "Was
' your hypothesis incorrect? "
 What have you	fearneBT,"	
 based on the information
 you collected?


     Science Project - The Wonders of Wetlands
     Build a Working Wetland Model
a 2 large aluminum roasting pans
a Sand
a Modeling clay
a Carpet
a Ground pepper
a Twigs, branches
 Background: Wetlands are amazing natural areas that are in between deep open water
             and dry land. Sometimes it is easy to see the water in a wetland. X\t
             other times the wetness lies just below the surface of the soil, where
             the plant roots grow. Maybe you think of wetlands as swamps, bogs, or
             marshes-muddy places that smell like rotten eggs, are full of mosquitos
             and leave your sneakers caked in muck. Maybe you think of them as cool
             places full of turtles, frogs, and birds.

             Wetlands provide more benefits than most people realize.  First, wetlands
             provide nurseries and homes for birds, fish, reptiles, insects, amphibians,
             and mammals. Wetlands also can filter out pollutants before they reach
             the stream. Wetlands can slow down the flow of waters to  reduce the
             chances of flooding and protect areas from erosion. Finally, wetlands
             provide opportunities for recreational activities such as canoeing and
             birdwatching. When you finish this experiment, you will be  better able to
             understand how wetlands are beneficial to our environment.
 Hypothesis:  State a hypothesis about the ability of a wetland  to filter pollutants and
             soak up excess water. Give reasons for your hypothesis.
 Experiment:  In the first roasting pan make a model of a wetland. Build the wetland
             using materials such as sand, clay, carpeting, and twigs (hey, be creative).
             Leave the other pan empty. Raise both pans at one end approximately 2
             inches. Measure equal amounts of water. Pour the  water over the wetland
             pan and into the empty pan. Observe and record what you see. How long
             did it take the water to settle in the end of the pans? How much water
             was in the lower end of both pans?

             Repeat the experiment several times. Each time, add more  and different
             materials to the empty pan. Observe and record how long it takes the
             water to travel to the ends of the pans. Which materials soaked up the
             most water?

             Repeat the experiment with your wetland pan adding pepper to the water.
             Observe and record how much pepper ends up at the end of the pan. What
             happened to the remaining pepper?
Conclusion:    What conclusions  can you draw from this project?  In what
             ways are  wetlands beneficial to an ecosystem?

Science Project  - From the Rain to the Drain
Measure changes in pH as water goes from your house to a stream
Materials:    Q  4 clean containers to collect water samples (cut the tops off empty
                plastic !-gallon milk containers)
                pH testing kit (ask your science teacher where you can get a kit)
                Sraph paper
                Measuring tape
Background:  As rainwater falls and moves across your yard, down the driveway, and
             into a storm drain, it picks up pollutants. These pollutants come from
             many sources such as the exhaust from our cars, fertilizers on our lawns,
             dirt from bare patches, and wastes from our pets. These pollutants can
             affect the pH of the water, making it more acidic. pH is the measure of
             how acidic or basic a solution is. Changes in pH can affect how chemicals
             dissolve in the water and whether organisms can use these chemicals to
             grow. Most aquatic organisms prefer a pH  range of 6.5-8.0

Hypothesis:  State a hypothesis about how the pH readings of your water samples will
             change as the water flows from your yard  down to a storm drain.  Record
             your hypothesis.
Experiment:  Identify four sampling locations starting at the highest point (hopefully
             near your house) and ending in a storm drain. Measure the distance
             between your sampling locations, and space the locations at least 30 feet
             apart (or measure 30 paces with your feet). Leave the first container
             outside your door to collect rainwater. Laying each container on its side,
             collect the runoff from the other three locations. Test the pH of each
             container and record your findings. Repeat the sampling two more times on
             different days. Each time record the number of days since the last rain
             event before you sampled.
             Plot your measurements on a graph with the pH concentration on one axis
             and the sampling location (distance from your house) on another axis.
Conclusion:   Does the pH in the water samples increase, decrease, or stay the same?
             What conclusions can you make about the  changes in the pH from your
             house to the storm drain? How do you think these changes affect the
             pH level of the river water? Did the pH level change from one rain event
             to another?  What do think are the major  sources of pollutants in the

     Science  Project -  Watershed  Awareness Campaign
 Background: Clean, healthy watersheds depend on an "informed public" to make choices
             that help the environment. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are poured
             into education campaigns each year to make communities aware of the
             sources of water pollution in their watershed and what can be done
             to prevent these problems. Marketing firms conduct research on their
             markets before they develop an ad campaign. They identify their markets,
             find out what messages appeal to them, and then develop ways to get
             the messages out.

             Conduct your own research to gauge the awareness of your community on
             watershed issues, and design  a marketing campaign to improve awareness
             of the issues.

 Hypothesis:  State a hypothesis about the current understanding of watershed issues
             in your community. Predict which audiences are the most informed and
             which messages you think will appeal to which audiences.
Interview forms
List of questions
 Experiment:  Identify at least three different audiences from which to gather
             information on watershed issues (for example, students in grades 6-9,
             homeowners, local elected officials). Develop a 1- or 2-page interview form
             to ask questions that will help you determine their level of knowledge on
             various issues. (For example, do they know what a watershed is? Where
             does their drinking water come from?) [Hint: Use some of the questions
             on the Test Your Water Smarts in this report to get you started.]
             Determine how you will get the information. (During lunch period?
             Stopping people at the grocery store? After a board of supervisors
             meeting?) After you collect and analyze the information, develop a
             campaign to address the major gaps of knowledge in your community and
             outline strategies to fill in these gaps (a watershed fair, articles in the
             local newspaper, etc.).  Show examples of materials you would use to get
             the message out.

Conclusions: What audiences were the most informed about watershed issues? Which
             messages appealed to the different audiences? How did the different
            audiences get their information on watershed issues?

This is just a starting point. There's a ton of information out there about the water
quality in your state and who's doing what to protect it. Thanks to the cyber world,
much of this information is only a mouse click away. Dig in to find out
what the water quality is like in your local watershed and what you can
do to make a difference.

                              in hands-on activities, making
                              science applicable and relevant
                              to their lives. To get more
                              information on activities you
                              can do in your state/
                              community go to www.adopt-
                              and click on your state. You
                              can also call (530) 628-5334
                              for a list of contacts for your
                              Coastal Cleanups (www.cmc-
                     Visit this site or call
                              the Center for Marine Conser-
                              vation at 1-800-CMC-Beach for
                              information about beach clean-
                              ups or to participate in the
                              annual International Coastal
                              Earth Force (G.R.E.E.N)
                              Earth Force is youth driven.
                              Through Earth Force, kids dis-
                              cover and implement lasting
                              solutions to environmental
                              issues in their community.
                              In the process they develop
                                                habits of
                                               active citi-
                                              zenship and
                                    mental stewardship. For
                              more information, call (703)
                              299-9400 or visit the web site
                              at www.earthforce. org.
                              Earthwater Stencils. Their
                              mission is to foster public
Use the government pages of
your telephone book to locate
addresses and phone numbers
of local agencies in your com-
munity or state. The following
list includes some of the orga-
nizations that may be helpful
to you:
  Cooperative Extension
  Department of Agriculture
  Department of Health
  Department of Natural
  Environmental Quality
  Soil and Water
  Conservation District
  Waste Water Departments

1-800-RECYCLE. You can
call anytime to get infor-
mation on how and what
to recycle.
Adopt-A-Watershed uses a local
watershed as a living labora-
tory in which students engage
awareness of,
involvement in,
and support for stormwater
pollution prevention. This is
accomplished through
community-based storm drain
stenciling and related pro-
grams in local watersheds.
For more information, call
(360) 956-3774 or visit

EPA Safe Drinking Water
Act Hotline (1-800-426-4791).
You can call this number to
report problems or to get infor-
mation on safe drinking water

EPA Wetlands Helpline
(1-800-832-7828). You can
obtain free  fact sheets, coloring
books, and  other useful materi-
als on wetlands.

Global Learning and Obser-
vations to Benefit the Envi-
ronment (GLOBE) is a
worldwide  network of stu-
dents, teachers,  and scientists
working together to study and
understand the global environ-
ment. GLOBE students make
environmental observations at
or near their schools and
report their data through the
Internet. For more information
on getting Involved, call 1-800-
858-9947 or visit GLOBE'S web

 Izaak Walton League of
 America's Save Our Streams
 program provides educational
 material on stream and wetland
 sos or call 1-800-BUG-IWLA.
 National Wildlife Federa-
 tion's Backyard Wildlife Hab-
 itat program shows you how
 to help save a place for
 wildlife in your own backyard.
 Project WET is
 a nonprofit water
 education pro-
 gram for educators and young
 people, grades K-12, located on
 the Montana State University
 campus in Bozeman, Montana.
 The goal of Project WET is to
 facilitate and promote aware-
 ness, appreciation, knowledge,
 and stewardship of water
 resources. At project WET's
 homepage (
 wwwwet) you can get more
 information from the contact in
 your state (see the State Project
 WET Program Coordinator list)
 or call (406) 994-5392.
 River of Words Poetry and
 Art Contest. The River of
 Words Contest is a national
 poetry and poster contest for
 grades K-12 that invites chil-
 dren to explore their own
 watershed, discover its impor-
 tance in their lives, and express
 what they learned, felt and saw
 in words or images. For more
 information on entering the
 next River of Words contest,
 or call  (510) 848-1155.
 River Network keeps a
 directory of river and water-
 shed conservation groups. Visit
 The Groundwater Founda-
 tion is a nonprofit organization
 dedicated to teaching the
 public about the conservation
 and management of ground
 water. For more information,
       or call 1-800-858-4844.
       Water Environment
  Federation. Contact WEF
 for information on hosting a
 watershed festival. Call 1-800-
 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do
 to Save the Earth by Earth-
 works Group. This book shows
 kids how specific elements of
 their environment (like a light
 switch or a toilet) are con-
 nected to the rest of the world.
 The book provides practical
 tips to kids on how they can
 conserve energy, recycle waste,
 and take on important environ-
 mental projects. Available in
 Backyard Conservation.
 Whether you have acres in
 the country, an average-
 sized suburban yard, or
 a tiny plot in the city,
 this booklet can show
you things you can do
to the land around your
home to help protect the
environment and add
beauty and interest to your
 surroundings. Tip sheets and
 this colorful 28-page booklet
 on Backyard Conservation are
 available free by calling 1-888-
 LANDCARE (single copies
 only). You can also visit the
 web site

 Earth Book for Kids: Activi-
 ties to Help Heal the Envi-
 ronment by Linda Schwartz,
 Beverly Armstrong (Illustrator).
 This book contains arts and
 crafts projects, experiments,
 and experiences  that encourage
 children to enjoy and heal the
 environment. The book covers
 acid rain, endangered wildlife,
 pesticides, energy, recycling,
 pollution, landfills, rain forests,
 water conservation, and related
 topics. Available  in bookstores.

 Getting Started in Volunteer
 Monitoring. A brochure intro-
 ducing volunteer monitoring and
 how to get involved. Visit die
 EPA web site
 Girl Scout Water Drop Patch
Project. The purpose of this
 project is to encourage girls to
 make a difference in their com-
munities by becoming water-
shed and wetlands stewards.
For more information or to
obtain  a copy of the booklet,
call the National  Service
Center for Environmental
Publications (NSCEP) at
         1-800-490-9198 or
        visit the web site at
        patch. Don't forget to
        give them the EPA

document number when order-
ing (EPA840-B-99-004).
Give Water a Hand Activity
This guide provides informa-
tion for youth about water-
sheds and ways to protect and
improve them.
National Water Quality Inven-
tory: Report to Congress.
This report includes infor-
mation about the condition
of our nation's waters. Visit or contact
the National Service Center
for Environmental Publications
(NSCEP) at 1-800-490-9198.
Splosh (CD-ROM). This inter-
active tool provides information
on nonpoint source pollution. For
more information, contact the
Conservation Technology Informa-
tion Center at (765) 494-9555.
Turning the Tide on Trash:
A Learning guide on Marine
Debris. Call the National Ser-
vice Center for Environmental
Publications (NSCEP) at 1-800-
490-9198 or visit the web site
PubList/publist2.html. EPA
document number
Waters to the Sea: Rivers
of the Upper Mississippi
 (CD-ROM). This interactive
tool presents fundamental con-
cepts of ecology, the water
cycle, and watershed hydrology.
The cost is $39.95 plus ship-
ping and handling. For more
information, contact the Center
for Global Environmental Edu-
cation at (651) 523-2480.
 i/Oeb S»f es
Environmental Issues. This web
site contains information on
environmental issues, where to
get free environmental mate-
rials (CDs and posters), kids'
stuff (fun and games), clip art,
environmental news, online
environmental mapping, and
other links to environmental
Hey Kids, Its Time to Take
Action. All types of recycling
programs and information for
kids from the American Forest
and Paper Association. One
feature of the site lists 20 ways
to reuse a paper grocery bag. (b)
At this site, you can find
reports on the quality of our
nation's waters, including sum-
maries for your state.
EPA's Explorer's Kids Club. Pro-
vides information and activities
for kids to become  familiar with
the environment and what they
can do to make a difference.
EPA's Volunteer Monitoring
Homepage. At this  web site
you'll find information on vol-
unteer monitoring, including a
directory of U.S. programs and
documents on how to monitor.
Locate Your Watershed. Using
the Watershed Information
Network, you can check out
local water conditions, find
out about watershed training
opportunities, identify volun-
teer monitoring and watershed
programs to get involved in, or
connect with federal and state
This web site is loaded with
information for kids of all
ages, including projects, exper-
iments, educational materials
and games.
Watershed Information Net-
work. You can get information
on your watershed from this
web site.
MSNBC's Earth Dog. Checkout
this web site to learn more
about environmental issues
from this canine  crusader. This
web site includes articles on
various environmental prob-
lems throughout the world and
offers tips on how you can
improve our world's natural

 Test Your Water  Smarts

 Take this quiz (don't worry, you won't get graded) to test your water smarts. Then give the
 quiz to your family and friends to test their knowledge on water quality. We can't solve all
 these problems if people don't know they exist. Be the ball
  1.  True or false. Watersheds are
     located mainly in mountainous regions
     with high rainfall.

  2.  Circle the correct answer. Most of
     the pollutants entering our waters
     come from the following sources:
         A. Wastewater treatment plants
         B. Runoff from fields and
         C. Factories along rivers

  3.  True or false. Students can join
     organizations to help monitor their

  4.  True or false. Dirt, bacteria, and
     nutrients are the most common
     pollutants in our waters.

  5.  True or false. Leaves should be
     raked down a storm drain so they can
     decompose in the stream and provide
     food for the fish.

 6.  True or false. To test if your toilet
     is leaking, you can squirt a couple
     drops of food dye in the top of the
     tank and wait a few minutes to see if
     the dye shows up in the toilet  bowl.
                           7.   Circle the correct answer. The
                               following organizations monitor the
                               quality of our waters:
                                   A. Volunteer organizations,
                                    including kids like you
                                   B. State, local and tribal agencies
                                   C. The federal government
                                   D. All of the above

                           8.   Circle the correct answer. Nutrients
                               that enter our waters come from
                               the following sources:
                                   A. Leaking septic systems
                                   B. Excess fertilizers washing off
                                  C. Pet waste
                                  D. All of the above

                           9.   What percentage of rivers and
                               streams assessed in the most recent
                               national water quality report scored
                              a GOOD rating, meaning the waters
                              fully supported their designated uses?
                                  A. 10%
                                  B. 32%
                                  C. 65%
                                  D. 93%
How do you rate?

More than five wrong: Uh oh. Better read this report again!

3 to 5 wrong: You've gotta do better than that if you're going to make a difference. Check
out some of the web pages listed on page	.
1 to 3 wrong: Pretty good. Find the correct answers and start spreading the word.

0 wrong: Excellent! You've got the smarts to be an environmental champion. Now, go out
there and make a difference!
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To improve your home's environmental friendliness, you need to know where you and your family
stand on the environmentally-friendly meter. Please answer the questions below and then calculate
your score. If some questions don't apply to you, try answering them anyway, using good ol'
common sense (lots of us don't have yards, garages, or dogs!).
Your family runs the dishwasher and washing machine
    a. Only when they're full
    b. When they are about half full
    c. When they have only a few items in them

Your house has low-flow devices (which use less water than standard devices) in the
    Bathroom sink (number	)
    Shower (number	)
    Toilets (number	)

Take a look at all of the faucets in your house. How many leak?	
Your family recycles
    a. Glass
    b. Plastic
    c. Newspapers
    d. Metal

When you look into your garage or shed, you see
    a. No cans of paint, fertilizer, yard chemicals, or car batteries. Your family recycles
      them at the local hazardous waste facility.
            Bonus: Where is the facility located?	
    b. One can of paint, but your family is redecorating and it will be used
    c. Plenty of cans of paint, fertilizers, chemicals, and old car batteries.
    d. No cans of paint or old car batteries. Your family threw them away in the regular

When you look at the floor of your garage and/or driveway, you see
    a. No oil or chemical stains
    b. A few drops of oil or chemicals
    c. A lovely collage of chemical stains and leaked oil

 7.   If yoM have a family dog, whoever walks it
        a. Always picks up after the pooch
        b. Sometimes picks up after the pooch
        c. Never picks up after the pooch, except when someone steps in it

 8.   Describe how your family deals with your lawn
        a. Constantly fertilizes, spreads chemicals for weed and bug control,
          and waters it like crazy. Your parents pay more attention
          to the lawn than to you!
        b. Hires a lawn care company to do everything in choice "a"
        c. Fertilizes infrequently, uses little or no chemicals for weed and bug
          control, and waters occasionally in the early morning or late afternoon
        d. Your "lawn" only has native grasses and plants (native means that the plants grow
          naturally in your area of the country and usually don't require any watering or
          fertilizers), and your family removes the weeds by hand (really)

 9.  Your yard is mostly:
        a. Patches of dirt and/or a patio
        b. Grass, shrubs, flowers, trees, and pervious (water absorbing) surfaces

 10. Your family disposes of yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) by
        a. Throwing it into the nearby pond or stream
        b. Raking it into the storm drain
        c. Collecting it to be recycled by the town or county public works department
        d. Composting it and using it in the garden or planting beds

 11. If you have a stream or pond in your yard or neighborhood, you see
        a. A healthy watercourse with lots of fish and with vegetation, like overhanging
          trees and shrubs, along the  edge
        b. No sign offish and has mowed grass or impervious surfaces right along the edge
        c.  No water because that's where you dump your trash

12.  If you have a septic system
        a.  When was the last time that it was pumped?	
       b.  By whom?	

Sof h<>u>
Mom Nature thinks that you're pretty cool for doing this survey. Give yourself 5 points to
    start out.
1.  To be most efficient with water and energy, the dishwasher and washing machine
    should only be run when they're full.
        a. add 3 points
        b. subtract 1 point
        c. subtract 3 points
2.  Low-flow devices can save lots of water, plus there will be less water to
    clean at the water treatment plant.
        * add 1 point for every low-flow device in your house
3.  Water conservation is always environmentally friendly. Leaking water faucets
    waste precious water.
        subtract 2 points for each leaky faucet
4.  Recycling is good for the environment. Recycling materials into useful
    products uses less energy and water than using new natural resources.
        a. add 2 points
        b. add 2 points
        c. add 2 points
        d. add 2 points
5.   Cans of oil-based paint and old car batteries should never be put into the regular
     trash. They are a hazardous waste and should be recycled by a special facility.
        a. add 5 point                                              :
          BONUS add 10 points (good for you!)
        b. add 3 points
        c. subtract 3 points
        d. subtract 5 points
6.   When it rains or you hose down the garage, oils and other gunk on the floor
     of the garage or driveway will be washed into a storm drain that leads into
     a stream. That's bad news for the  fish and other critters living in the stream.
        a. add 5 points
        b. add no points
        c. subtract 5 points (A collage of oils and chemicals is  certainly NOT art!)

 7.   Pet waste should always be picked up and put into the trash or flushed down the
     toilet. If left on the ground, it can wash into a storm drain or directly into a stream.
        a. add 5 points
        b. add 1 point
        c. subtract 5 points (Ewwwww! That's gross!)
 8.   Lawns should be fertilized sparingly,  and weed and bug chemicals applied only
     when absolutely necessary. Native plants need little care and often provide
     improved habitat for animals. If the lawn is fertilized too much, the excess

     fertilizer will just wash into a storm drain or directly into a stream.
        a. subtract 3 points
        b. subtract 5 points
        c. add 3 points
        d. add 5 points

 9.   When it rains, the runoff picks up dirt from bare patches in the yard and
     washes it into a storm drain or directly into a stream. Dirt can clog fish
     gills, smother stream critters, and change the flow of water in the stream.
     A yard with lots of bare patches and impervious surfaces is bad news!
        a. subtract 5 points
        b. add 5 points

 10.  Composting or recycling leaves and grass clippings creates new topsoil. Yard waste should
     never be thrown into the regular trash or any other sensitive area such as a wetland
     or stream. Too many leaves and grass clippings can clog up those sensitive areas and
     add too many nutrients. Yard waste clogs storm drains and ends  up in our waterways.
        a. subtract 5 points
        b. subtract 5 points
        c. add 5 points
        d. add 5 points

 11.  A "buffer area" is an area with many plants along a streambed. A buffer area filters
     pollutants such as phosphorus and dirt out of rainwater before it enters the stream
     or pond. A buffer area also shades the water to keep it cool for the critters in
     the summer. And as we learned, cool water holds more oxygen than warm water.
        a. add 5 points
        b. add no points
        c. subtract 5 points (Try using a trash can!)
 12.  Septic systems require maintenance, such as regular pumping of the tank every few years.
        a. add 5 points if it was within the past three years
          subtract 5 points if it was over 5 years ago
        b. add 5 points if it was by a certified contractor
          subtract 5 points if it was by your Uncle Bob                    ^_   _^ //

       V\owj tfafure f Wnks of your score...
50 points or more
   You and your family are environmentally friendly! Mom Nature is  really proud of you! Keep
   up the good work!

20 to 50 points
   You and your family are really close to environmentally friendly. Mom Nature is pleased, but
   she would like you to do a bit better.

negative points to 20 (eek!)
   Mom Nature is pretty upset and wants you and your family to go to your rooms and reread
   this report until you learn more about protecting the environment!

Technically Speaking - Glossary of Terms
Algal bloom: a sudden, excessive growth of
algae in a waterbody.
Clarity: a measure of the amount of particles
suspended in water; determined by using a
secchi disk or turbidity test.
Designated use: the desired use a waterbody
should support (like fishing or swimming).
Dissolved oxygen (DO): the amount of oxygen
dissolved in water. The amount is usually
expressed in parts per million (ppm) or mil-
ligrams per liter (mg/L).
Estuary: the area where the fresh water of a
river meets and mixes with the salt water of
the ocean.
Fecal coliforms: a group of organisms found
in the intestinal tracts of people and animals.
Their presence in water usually indicates pollu-
tion that may pose a health risk.
Ground water: the supply of fresh water that is
found under the earth's surface in underground
rock formations or soil.
Impervious surface: A paved or other hard
surface that does not allow water to penetrate.
Livestock operation: a facility that raises ani-
mals such as cows, sheep,  or hogs. Fecal coli-
forrn bacteria are present in livestock waste.
Macroinvertebrate: organism that lacks a
backbone and is large enough to be seen with
the naked eye.
Meandering stream: one  that follows its natu-
ral course creating winding curves.
National Water Quality Inventory: a report
EPA prepares every 2 years summarizing infor-
mation from states about the quality of the
nation's waters.
Nitrogen: a nutrient that is essential to plants
 and animals.
Nutrients: substances necessary for the growth
of all living things, such as nitrogen, carbon,
potassium, and phosphorus. Too many nutrients
in waterbodies can contribute to algal blooms.

Particulates: small pieces of material (such as
sand) floating in the water.
Pervious surface: A surface which allows water
to soak into it.
pH: a symbol for expressing the degree to
which a solution is acidic or basic. It is based
on a scale from 0 (very acid) to 14 (very basic).
Pure water has a pH of 7.
Phosphorus: a nutrient that is essential to
plants and animals.
Photosynthesis: The conversion of light energy
to chemical energy. At night, this process
reverses: plants and algae suck oxygen out of
the water.
Runoff: water from rain, snowmelt, or irriga-
tion that flows over the ground and returns
to streams. It can collect pollutants from air
or land and carry them to streams and other
Secchi disk: a black-and-white disk used to
measure the clarity of water. The disk is low-
ered into the water until it cannot be seen and
then the depth of the disk is measured.

Septic system: a system that treats and dis-
poses of household wastewater under the
Turbidity: a measure of the degree of clarity of
a solution. For cloudy water, turbidity would be
high; for clear water, turbidity would be low.

Watershed: the area of land that drains into a
specific waterbody.
Wetland: an area where water covers the soil
or is present either at or near the surface of
the soil all year (or at  least for periods of time
during the year).

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