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Step 3: Water Wisely


Understand the value of clean water supplies, adequate water supplies, and freshwater flows in the Barnegat Bay watershed for both people and wildlife.

Why It’s Important 

Water is a precious and limited resource; only about 0.003% of the freshwater on earth is accessible for human consumption. More than 7 billion gallons of freshwater are used in the U.S. every day to irrigate landscapes, including school lawns. As much as 50% of the water used outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methods and systems. 

Although New Jersey is fortunate to be considered a “water rich” state, much of the water we use is wasted. Excess water runs off schoolyard lawns and down storm drains, often carrying pollutants into our nearby lakes, streams and estuaries. How much water does your school use, and for what purposes? 

A thoughtfully managed landscape can help conserve precious water resources. A rain garden, native flower garden, or rain barrels help to capture water and channel it into the soil where it is cleaned and stored underground. These practices also reduce the amount of water consumed through lawn irrigation.

Visit Step 3: Water Wisely on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for tips, tools and resources to support water conservation in your Jersey-Friendly Schoolyard.

Standard Actions

3A: Learn about water resources and how to protect them.

Water is a precious resource and an essential component for a successful Jersey-Friendly garden. Provide lessons to your students about water quality, water conservation, and the importance of ensuring clean and adequate water supplies for both people and wildlife.

Water Quality and Supply

17 trillion gallons of fresh water is stored beneath our feet in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer. Provide a lesson about New Jersey’s aquifers, and include the following: what is an aquifer, where is it, how does it work, who uses it, why it’s important to protect New Jersey’s aquifers, and how to protect them.

Water Conservation

Water is a non-renewable resource. Provide a lesson about outdoor water conservation practices, and have students look for ways to conserve water in your schoolyard. Visit Step 3: Water Wisely on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for tips, tools, and resources to support water conservation in your Jersey-Friendly Schoolyard.

Resources for Lessons about Water Conservation 

Water and Wildlife

Wildlife, like people, depend on water to survive. Provide a lesson that makes connections between local wildlife and clean, abundant water resources in your community. 

Resources for Lessons about Water and Wildlife

3B: Participate in the Rain Barrel Challenge.

Collecting water in rain barrels and using the water in the schoolyard is one way to conserve water. Participate in the Barnegat Bay Partnership’s Rain Barrel Challenge, an annual art competition with an environmental theme.

The Challenge is open to schools and youth organizations within the Barnegat Bay watershed, offering students and youth group members a way to creatively express their appreciation for the Barnegat Bay through rain barrel art. The Rain Barrel Challenge aims to educate young people about the bay and engage them in water conservation practices.

Contact Karen Walzer, Barnegat Bay Partnership’s Public Outreach Coordinator, for information about participating in the next Rain Barrel Challenge.

Resources for Lessons about Rain Barrels

General Resources about Water

water wisely and plant nj native plants

Ready to Submit Step 3?  

Upload the Required Documentation to Your Custom Link.

When you enrolled, you received a custom link from us for your action item uploads.

What to Submit for Step 3

  • Copy of your three lesson plans about water (3A). Include samples of student learning outcomes for each and photos of students engaged in your lessons. 
    – water quality
    – water conservation
    – water and wildlife
  • Copy of your Rain Barrel Challenge enrollment form and photo(s) of your completed rain barrel (3B)

Standard Actions for Creek School Certification