septicsmart

   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
 King  County Wastewater  Education  Program
 Established to educate the public on how daily decisions
 affect water quality, the King County Community Services
 group, in King County, Washington, serves as a liaison
 between the county's Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD)
 and residents, helping WTD protect public health and the
 environment by:
    Informing and educating the public about WTD functions
     and activities.
    Involving the community in decision making and
     problem solving.
    Keeping WTD informed about community concerns and
     issues.
    Fostering positive relationships with residents.
    Supporting WTD project teams to stay on schedule and
     budget.

 PROGRAM ELEMENTS
 Wth an emphasis on water quality, conservation, and
 environmental stewardship, the community services group's
 outreach and education efforts include:
    Treatment plant tours with community members,
     professional groups,  university groups, and high school
     students.
    Elementary and middle school field trips to treatment
     plants and natural areas.
    Family programs.
    Summer camps.
    Teacher trainings.
    Community open house events.
    Volunteer and internship programs.
    Demonstration gardens housed on the grounds of two
     treatment plants. The new demonstration gardens show
     how the use of biosolids and reclaimed water, both
     products of the wastewater treatment process.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
The King County Wastewater Education Program
focuses on how small behavioral changes can
make a big impact on water quality and the
environment. The county's community services
group seeks to educate residents on:
       Methods to keep dangerous chemicals and
       items out of wastewater.
       Green cleaning alternatives.
       Water conservation.
       Combined sewer systems.
       Storm runoff.
       Products produced from wastewater
       treatment (biosolids, reclaimed wastewater,
       etc.).
Additional objectives include increased awareness of
WTD's role in protecting public health and the
environment, as well as increased  understanding of
WTD's mission, facilities, and operations in order to
build support for WTD rates, projects, facilities, and
 Educational exhibit hall (Brightwater Environmental
 Education Center) focusing on a wide range of water-
 related issues, including water conservation, natural
 water systems and watersheds, man-made water
 systems (including septic systems), wastewater
 treatment, global water issues, water and electricity, and
 responsible choices for clean water.
 Social media, websites, and print materials (newsletters,
 fact sheets, and more).
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  King County Wastewater Education Program
  WTD tour guides lead groups through each of the plant processes,
  beginning with preliminary treatment.

  PROMOTION
  In addition to the educational exhibit hall, the King County
  community services group utilizes social media, press
  releases, print collateral, an exhibit hall,  demonstration
  gardens, and its website to promote outreach activities.

  OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
  Community Services managers recommend that other
  organizations seeking to launch similar outreach and
  education programs:
      Start small and phase in programming.
      Develop partnerships with non-profits and universities.
      Ask what problems need to be solved, then prioritize
      their importance.
      Set realistic goals with available resources, as it is often
      better to delve deeper into one issue or program than to
      try and do everything.
                                                             PARTNERSHIPS
                                                             Partnerships with universities, non-profits, and government
                                                             agencies have been an important part of outreach efforts.
                                                             The University of Washington, Washington State University,
                                                             IslandWood (a non-profit education institution), and other
                                                             organizations regularly partner with the group for much of its
                                                             water-related education programming.
                                                              Thanks   for
                                                                   "              ^      *
                                          ' 
                                    D
                                  Met
                                   %,

                                       '! '
Students grades 4-12 comment on their treatment plant tour
experiences.
  "Dear Casey, Brian, Greg and the West Point
  Treatment staff,
  Thank you so much for giving us such a great tour.
  My favorite things that you taught us were how clean
  you can get the water, what not to dump down the
  toilets, and about the biodiversity in a wetland.
  Thanks!
  Ley is"
      RESULTS
      Wth high attendance and significant public engagement, the results of the education program are overwhelmingly positive.
      Residents report they were not only unaware of manmade water systems, but "surprised that they can make a big
      difference in their water systems with small behavior changes and different choices."
      For more information on the Brightwater Center, visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/brightwater-center.aspx.
                                    FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE KING COUNTY
                                                 WASTEWATER EDUCATION PROGRAM:

            Please contact Susan Tallarico, Brightwater Environmental Education Center Director, at
                                        (206) 255-8663 orsusan.tallarico@kingcounty.gov.
                                 King County
                                  Department of
                             Natural Resources and Parks
                           Wastewater Treatment Division
www.epa.gov/septicsmart
                                                                                   EPA-832-F-12-040 I November 2012
                                                                                                    v>EPA

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