Arizona Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) – School Water Audit Program (SWAP)

Research Year: 
2010
Issue: 

The Southwest’s continuing drought makes water conservation critical. Research shows that students can be conduits to educate parents and guardians and even local decision makers about water stewardship. With both youth and adult audiences in mind, the School Water Audit Program (SWAP) was developed with the motto “SWAPping Water Waste for Water Efficiency.” Through auditing, students measure quantities of water flowing from fixtures and observe the practice of how water is used, making them aware of their own use of water thereafter. This project is about real-world, problem-based learning that empowers informed decision making and positive change. Volunteers from the schools where SWAPs take place are trained to work with small cooperative learning groups of middle school students. Parents agree to allow students to teach them to measure faucet flow at home with and without aerators

Description of Action: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension professionals led teachers, volunteers and students in implementing the SWAP in several counties in 2010. For example, at Mansfeld Middle School in Tucson, 16 volunteers spent 128 hours performing water audits (including their training) with 120 sixth graders. At bathroom and classroom faucets, students measured faucet flow at baseline conditions, with no aerator and with new water-efficient faucet aerators that were then left on the faucet. Outside, students used catch cans placed evenly around sprinkler heads to collect water for 10 minutes on their school athletic field. Using that data they determined that the distribution uniformity-an indicator of irrigation efficiency-was very low at 18 percent. Through interviews of their groundskeepers, students also found that 162,270 gallons of water are used on the field in the spring, 27,120 gallons in the winter and 664,440 gallons in the summer. They concluded that a total of 853,830 gallons of water is used annually to inefficiently irrigate the field. They presented their data-driven conclusions and recommendations at the Metropolitan Energy Commission and Green Building Council-Tucson Chapter and the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board. A newly developed business plan is currently being used to market the program statewide.

Impact: 

Results from three successful pilot School Water Audit Program (SWAP) projects indicate a projected water savings at of 7 million gallons from school and home water savings due to installation of water efficient faucet aerators. At Mansfeld Middle School in Tucson, student data analysis resulted in a projected water savings of 507,288 gallons/year (a 68 percent savings on bathroom and classroom faucets) through the installation of faucet aerators at the school. The annual financial savings through Mansfeld retrofits is about $2,430 using a rate of $3.58/Ccf or $.00479/gal. At students’ homes, through installation of 144 aerators, an estimated 950,686 gallons of water and $4,554 will be saved annually (using a rate of $3.58/Ccf or $.00479/gal). In 2010, volunteers provided service hours delivering the festivals, a contribution valued at $2,592 (using Independent Sector value of $20.25). As a result of the student investigations and communication of results, a Citi grant of $1000 is being used to fix the sprinkler heads on the athletic field.

Conact Name: 
Kerry Schwartz
Contact E-mail: