Water is a hugely important part of life – we use it for washing, drinking and without it we wouldn’t be able to grow crops or make products.
Human demand for water is so vast that the natural water cycle often can’t keep up. Nowadays, people tend to live close together and so the natural amount of rainfall in an area can easily be too little to supply a large population.
In many areas of the world, sewage leaks, chemical discharges, oil spills and other pollutants have made clean water a rarity.
Did you know?
In Britain you are never more than 60 miles from the sea
Less than 2% of the world’s water supply is fresh water; the rest is salt water or is mixed into other materials
Taking showers instead of baths could save enough water every week to make 1,000 cups of tea
A garden sprinkler uses as much water in half an hour as a family of four in a day
The cost of water
Water falls from the sky and, as such, is a free resource. However, it costs water companies money to make water safe to drink, to maintain pipe systems, and to recycle water to supplement the natural recycling process of evaporation and rainfall.
The more water we waste and the more polluted natural supplies get, the harder water companies have to work to make sure we’ve enough of the clean water we need – which means bigger water bills for us all.
Cut water, save money
In the UK, schools spend around £106m a year on water, and a large secondary school can spend more than £20,000 a year on water alone.
By implementing careful water management, together with an effective education programme, your school could easily reduce your water use by two thirds. This could save a school of 600 pupils around £5,000 every year, which is a huge saving to make on just one bill!
Water reduction pledge
To start saving water in your school, why not build a water reduction pledge into your action plan?
By studying the water topic, pupils will:
Understand the water cycle and how water is cleaned and supplied
Understand the importance of clean water and how it can affect our health
Implement water saving activities at your school and understand that saving water is vitally important if humanity wants to keep its current quality of life
Tips for saving water
1. Assess how much water you use every day by taking meter readings
2. Check your school to ensure there are no leaks or drips and that your systems use the minimum amount of water needed
3. Check flow rates on taps and reduce the amount of water used in toilets
4. Once the water-saving steps have been implemented, compare meter readings and see how much you’ve saved
The Pod - EDF Energy's Programme for Greener Schools
The Pod, EDF Energy’s Programme for Greener Schools, can help you with the water topic. The Pod is an interactive online resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 teachers and pupils . It aims to make real and measurable improvement to the resource use and carbon output of schools across the country.
All activities on the Pod are accredited by Eco-Schools England and specifically designed to help schools progress through the Eco-Schools programme and achieve Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards.
Both teachers and pupils can use the Pod and joining is completely free. Visit www.jointhepod.org to register.
The Pod’s water activities
The Pod offers a range of practical water activities, designed to be run either by a teacher, class or Eco-Committee. The Pod’s water activities typically come with an activity resource pack, lesson plan, take-it-home sheet, interactive game, energy assembly and an audit to help you track and measure the impact of the activity. Upon finishing an activity you can enter your start and end audit data into the Pod’s special online Pod-o-Meters to measure any savings made. The Pod’s water information pack, helps you understand the importance of water, current issues affecting water resources, water efficiency and much more.
The Pod is expanding its resources all the time, but the following is a list of the water activities currently available for Key Stage 2 and 3.
Flushed with success: Create a splash in your school by putting bricks or hippos in your toilet cisterns. You could save several litres with every flush!
Lose your bottle: Is buying mineral water pouring money (and water) down the drain? Find out by running this activity.
The audits that accompany each of the water activities can be used to support your Environmental Review and your water monitoring and evaluation efforts; and the activity’s associated lesson plans will help you link water into the curriculum.
Visit the Pod's Activity pages.
Linking water into the curriculum
Eco-Schools England have developed a series of lesson ideas designed to inspire you on your journey to embedding sustainable issues into everyday lessons. We have primary and secondary ideas that will encourage your students to solve real-life problems and present their solutions in a variety of ways.
Many of these lesson ideas cover the water topic as well as link into a range of curriculum areas. Visit our Eco-Schools Free Resources section to find out more and to download these lesson ideas.
See how other Eco-Schools have successfully addressed the water topic
Gibside Special School help provide clean water for their partner school in Tanzania
Kew Green Prep School created a tapestry panel, whilst learning about biodiversity and river wildlife. The project provided an opportunity for the art and science departments to work closely together and link the Eco-Schools project to the curriculum.
Mickle Trafford Village School wanted to extend pupil awareness of global cohesion and so focused on countries that shared similar lines of longitude as them - France, Spain and Ghana.
Or visit our case studies section for even more ideas and inspiration from other Eco-Schools
Other sources of school water resources
WaterAid have a great range of curriculum-linked teaching resources. Several water companies will provide educational resources or facilities for their local school, why not contact yours to see what they can offer.
To see a list of other organisations that can provide you with school resources and advice on tackling the water topic, or help you reduce your water usage, visit our Useful Links page.
National Awareness Days and Campaigns
There are many National Awareness Days, events and campaigns that tie in with the Eco-Schools water topic. Why not use them as a way to introduce water issues or projects to your classes and get your students really interested and involved with them. Click on the titles to find out more.
You can get all the environmental awareness dates for the coming academic year, as well as dates for Eco-Schools and Pod events by downloading the 2012-2013 Year Planner.