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Conserve Water


Learn about the Barnegat Bay watershed, the value of its water resources, and what you can do in your schoolyard to conserve and protect water.

Why It’s Important 

Only a small percentage of the water on earth is available for human use. Yet more than 7 billion gallons of water are used in the U.S. every day to irrigate landscapes, including school lawns. A thoughtfully managed landscape can help to conserve and protect our precious water resources.

Learning Actions

2A: Discover the Barnegat Bay watershed and the benefits of a Jersey-Friendly schoolyard.

Schools are an important component of a healthy community and a healthy Barnegat Bay watershed. Learning about the watershed is a great way for teachers and students to build background knowledge about local ecology and natural resources, and understand how a Jersey-Friendly schoolyard can help to keep our water clean and healthy for both people and wildlife.

Invite the New Jersey Watershed Ambassador for the Barnegat Bay watershed to your classroom to provide a FREE lesson to students about the importance of a healthy watershed and the benefits of a Jersey-Friendly schoolyard. The Watershed Ambassador will engage your students in the following topics: 

  • What is a watershed? 
  • Which watershed do we live in?
  • How do human actions affect our watershed?
  • What is non-point source pollution and how can we prevent it?
  • Why is it important to manage stormwater?
  • How does a Jersey-Friendly schoolyard benefit the health of the watershed?

Email Bailey Sanders (bsanders@ocean.edu), Stewardship Specialist of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, for the contact information of the current New Jersey Watershed Ambassador for the Barnegat Bay watershed.  

2B: Learn about our water sources and how to conserve water in your schoolyard.

Where does the water we use every day come from? Provide a lesson about New Jersey’s aquifers, and answer the following questions: what are aquifers, how are they formed, and why is it important to protect them and conserve water. Save the Source offers information about the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer and an interactive aquifer tool that students can use to see the impacts of water overuse and pollution on groundwater in the aquifer.

Have students identify ways to conserve water in your schoolyard. Visit Step 2: Water Wisely on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for tips, tools, and resources about water conservation.

Non-point source pollution is a term used to describe water pollution that comes from many diffuse sources, in other words from many places all at once. Have your students identify some common types of non-point source pollution and discuss how they end up in our waterways.

A major source of non-point source pollution in the Barnegat Bay watershed is the fertilizer commonly used on lawns. When carried by stormwater runoff into water bodies, the nutrients in fertilizers can fuel an excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants. This excessive growth can lead to eutrophication, a process that causes harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and fish kills in aquatic ecosystems.

Green algal bloom in a lake.

Do an activity or provide a lesson about how nutrient pollution and eutrophication can harm life in the bay and impact human health. See the Step 4: Fertilize Less and Fertilizers in Our Waterways pages on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for more information about nutrient pollution and eutrophication.

Have your students start asking questions about the activities around your schoolyard:

  • Do we use fertilizers on our school yard? If so, what kind and how often?
  • Where does our schoolyard water runoff go?
  • Can we reduce the use of fertilizers in the schoolyard? (See Step 4: Fertilize Less for ideas)

Organic fertilizer alternatives, such as compost, slowly release nutrients into the soil, improve soil structure and water retention, and build soil as they feed plants. Refer to Know Before You Grow and the Step 8: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in the Yard page to learn more about the benefits of using compost!

We recommend bringing in a speaker from the Barnegat Bay Partnership for this action! Contact bsanders@ocean.edu for more information.

Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other elements to restore some of the natural processes for managing stormwater on a site, enabling rain water and melting snow to soak into the ground or be captured for beneficial re-use. Rain gardens, rain barrels, and downspout planters are a few examples of green infrastructure.

Do a lesson or provide an activity about the environmental benefits of green infrastructure. Have your students look for ways to incorporate green infrastructure into their Jersey-Friendly schoolyard project.

A rain garden or native plant garden can capture water and channel it into the soil, where it is cleaned and stored underground. Incorporating some green infrastructure features into your schoolyard project can help to:

  • Minimize the flow of stormwater and pollutants into local waterways,
  • Replenish drinking water supplies, 
  • Reduce local flooding risks, 
  • Create habitat for wildlife, and 
  • Add beauty to the schoolyard!
The students at Brick Township High School used PVC pipes. crushed rock, and native plants in their Jersey-Friendly Garden to aid water filtration and prevent erosion.

water wisely and plant nj native plants

Ready to submit?  

Upload the Required Documentation to Your Custom Link.

Use the custom link you received after enrolling to upload your documentation.

What to submit for the actions in Conserve Water:

  • Documentation showing a visit from a New Jersey Watershed Ambassador who provided a lesson about the Barnegat Bay watershed. (2A)
  • Short write-up of the lessons/activities conducted by you or the guest speakers about water sources. List of student ideas about how to conserve water in their schoolyard. (2B)
  • Short write-up of the lessons/activities conducted by you or the guest speakers about water quality and the impacts of fertilizers on our water bodies. (2C)
  • Short write-up of the lessons/activities about the benefits of green infrastructure. List of student ideas for incorporating green infrastructure into their Jersey-Friendly garden project. (2D)
  • Photos of students engaged in your lessons/activities.

Components of the School Certification Program