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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Idaho (Section 319I - 1994)

The Idaho Nonpoint Source Management Program has several goals--to develop and implement control strategies to protect existing beneficial uses of water, to restore - polluted waters, and to protect waters with high water quality from future contamination. Projects and activities encompass surface water, groundwater, forest practices, agriculture, and hydrologic/habitat modification.

Project WET--A Formula for Action

Idaho had a dilemma: How could it best promote the awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of water resources? Its answer: Teach the teachers. Project WET, begun in 1991, is administered through the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute at the - University of Idaho. It is based on the belief that informed people are more likely to take action and make a difference.

Project WET was initially funded through a $62,000 section 319 grant. The Idaho Division of Environmental Quality continued to support the program, which has trained 500 teachers --and touched 10,000 students.

By developing and disseminating teaching aids and activities, Project WET provides factual information to encourage sound personal practice decisions. The project develops innovative water-related activities and teaching strategies that examine not only the scientific aspects of water resources but also the cultural and social perspectives.

Project WET lessons are fun and easy to use. The project includes "liquid treasure history trunks" that contain - materials which represent the historical use of water in Idaho. A water management simulator teaches students about the tough choices that must be made in water allocation. Participatory activities are an important part of Project WET. Students in every teacher training course take a streamwalk, conducted by EPA Region 10. Students study groundwater flow models that demonstrate the underground movement of water and contaminates. They also use "water quality testing trunks" that contain equipment for measuring conditions and substances in waterbodies-- turbidity, temperature, total solids, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, phosphorus, nitrates, copper, and lead.

Back in their classrooms, teachers stay in touch with Project WET through a newsletter that highlights program innovations and opportunities for continued learning.

The increasing demand for workshops and materials indicates the project's success. The SCS, 4-H youth leaders, and community leaders have also expressed interest in the project. In addition, Project WET has served as a conduit for youths to develop ideas and proposals for action.

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