Storm Water Project Oak Grove Spring 2005 Report

The Storm Water Project at Oak Grove School is in its third year. This program began when the Atascadero-Green Valley Watershed council received a grant from Santa Rosa's environmental enhancement grant program in order to teach Oak Grove fifth-graders about storm water runoff. The project has now been integrated into a much larger environmental education program that the school district is putting together with a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

The Storm Water Project involves teaching fifth graders at Oak Grove about how impervious surfaces affect rain water runoff, leading to degraded riparian habitat and water quality as well as reduced recharge to our aquifers. The students learn ways to reduce runoff and improve water quality. Each year we make changes at the school site which increase our recharge capacity. Oak Grove's storm water system was previously set up to discharge all roof runoff into a street-side ditch, which takes the water directly to the seasonal creek running through the middle of Graton. During the first year of our project, we diverted runoff from the bus driveway (using a speed bump) and from one roof downspout into infiltration trenches. We also created berms to hold rainwater back so that it would have time to percolate into the soil. The second year, we diverted roof runoff from two more downspouts and created an infiltration pond in front of the school.

This year, we will place eight 60-gallon rain barrels under downspouts to catch and use more roof runoff. The barrels are made of post-consumer recycled plastic and will be set up to route water back into the storm drain system when the barrels are full.

In addition to site renovations, the students take field trips into Graton to raise community awareness. Students mark storm drains, distribute flyers, and speak with business owners about the environmental effects of runoff. This year, two classes from our district are partnering with a Japanese school to share information about their creek and runoff projects. Graduates of the project presented their information at the National Youth Leadership Council's National Service Learning Conference in Long Beach this March, and at a conference in Japan! Our project, among other Oak Grove projects, has also been documented in a video - To the Children of Tomorrow - which was shown the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. This video is available for purchase from the school.

Jean Redus, a member of the watershed council, put together the curriculum for this program and taught all of the classes during the first year. She has now trained one 5th grade teacher to teach the unit on her own, but the school will still need money each year to fund no-runoff projects.

Contact Info: Jean Redus, Oak Grove Union School District, 5285 Hall Road, Santa Rosa, California 95401, (707) 545-0171, ext. 119