Resources For Teachers

CWC collaborates with teachers to deliver experiential learning to classrooms.

Here, teachers can find resources related to topics covered in the program, including background information and resources that teachers can use before and after a lesson with CWC. For questions, or more information, email CWC Education Coordinator Mollie Behn today.

What is nonpoint source pollution?

The two basic types of pollution are point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution. If we can directly pinpoint the source where the pollutant is being expelled into the environment, it is considered a point source pollution. On the other hand, if the source cannot be traced to its exact location, it is considered a nonpoint source pollution. Nonpoint source pollution comes from many different sources and the accumulation of these pollutants is a primary threat to watershed quality. The pollutants have a wide range of sources that include pet waste, fertilizers, toxic chemicals, sediment, bacteria from livestock, cars, debris, pathogens, and atmospheric deposition.

Where does it come from?
Nonpoint source pollutants come from many different sources and it is primarily collected through runoff. These pollutants are often picked up from rainfall and snowmelt, where they are absorbed into waterways and negatively affect our watersheds. These pollutants move through the ground and make their way to our streams, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water.

What damage can nonpoint source pollutants cause?
Nonpoint source pollution is considered the primary source of watershed pollution. It poses a great threat to water quality, which can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. If the water quality decreases, the health and biodiversity of wildlife becomes threatened. The quality of our drinkable water supplies will degrade and recreational water use will decline.


5 Tips: What can I do to help reduce nonpoint source pollution?

  1. Store household chemicals in a safe and durable container
    Did you know that common household chemicals such as house paints, oils, and pesticides could damage the environment if they are not disposed of correctly? Instead of throwing leftover chemicals in the trash can, collect these unwanted chemicals in a safe container so you can be ready to dispose of them properly.
  1. Dispose of household chemicals properly
    After storing your unwanted chemicals in a safe sealed container, take the container to a hazardous waste drop-off site for proper disposal. If there is not a drop-off site in your local neighborhood, you can also call a regional hazardous waste pick-up center that will take care of the job for you.
  1. Keep trash from entering the drain!
    Any trash left out on the street can find its way into a storm drain, eventually making its way into the ocean. This is one the most common way pollutants enter the water system and by simply picking up trash on the street you can help minimize potential pollutants that could damage our watersheds.
  1. Pick up pet waste
    Though it is a natural pollutant, pet waste is also a common source of nonpoint source pollution. When pet waste is not cleaned up, the bacteria in the waste can end up in our water sources! So next time you take your dog on a walk, make sure to bring a plastic bag to pick up your pet’s waste.
  1. Reduce the amount of garden chemicals your household uses
    Pesticides and fertilizers are a large contributor to nonpoint source pollution. You can help reduce these pollutants by encouraging your family members to use less chemicals in their lawn or home garden, or better yet, switching to organic methods that do not require any chemical use!
Additional Tips:
  • Compost Yard Waste
  • Sweep Driveways and Roads
  • Use a Car wash instead of washing your car at home
  • Routinely check and pump Septic Tanks
List of Links:
List of Books:
Sources used:

What is Energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is the act of using less energy without having to sacrifice productivity or convenience. By being energy efficient, one can reduce energy use yet still utilize the same services needed to complete the same amount of work. Energy efficiency is often times mistaken for energy conservation. Though both help to reduce greenhouse gases, they are two different methods of doing so. Energy efficiency is considered the easiest, cleanest, and cheapest way to help improve our environment.

How is energy efficiency implemented in my community?
One example of energy efficiency would be using an energy efficient dishwasher. You would still be performing the same task with the same effect, just with less resource use. There are a lot of technologies that are being implemented both in our homes and in businesses in our communities to help better preserve energy use.

What should we be concerned with energy efficiency?
Energy efficiency is both good for the economy and the environment. Saving energy is also cost saving, and environmentally friendly. By reducing energy use, we can reduce our environmental impact and improve our overall quality of life.


5 Tips: What can I do to increase my energy efficiency?

  1. Update old appliances
    Older appliances use up more energy than their newer energy saving counterparts. Identify which of your appliances could use an upgrade, and consider replacing it with an energy efficient model. Investing in a new washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, showerhead, or toilet would be the most effective way to help reduce energy use in your own home. Look for products that contain the Energy Star label to better identify energy efficient products!
  1. Switch off appliances that are not in use
    Appliances still use energy even when they are in the off position or when they are in standby mode. By unplugging appliances while they are not in use, you can save tons of energy and money! Common appliances that are left plugged in and continue to consume energy are TVs, DVD players, cell phone chargers, and power strips.
  1. Replace incandescent light bulbs
    Incandescent light bulbs have been slowly phased out of the market because of their inefficient use of energy. Replace old light bulbs with either Halogen, Incandescents, Compact Fluorescents, or LEDS.
  1. Use natural resources to cool your home
    Before automatically switching on the heater, try warming your house by opening your window shades to let the natural warmth of the sun in. Layer clothing to stay warm and if necessary, keep the heater on at a consistent low level rather than blasting the heat to warm up the house. Alternatively, close up the blinds when it’s hot out to keep your house nice and cool.
  1. Reduce your water heater temperature to 130 degrees
Additional Tips:
  • Wash Clothes in Cold water
List of Links:
List of Books:
Sources Used:

What is water conservation?

Water conservation is the act of protecting the waterways through sustainable methods of conservation. It is the act of reducing water usage and water waste. Less than 2% of the Earth’s water supply is considered as freshwater, which exists in the forms of polar ice caps, glaciers, groundwater, and surface water from some rivers and lakes. Because of the limited number of freshwater sources, we must do our part to help conserve freshwater now and for future generations.

Where does water waste occur in the home?
Homeowners contribute largely to water waste, whether they are aware of it or not. Many people have adapted to the idea that clean water is an abundant natural resource that automatically flows straight into one’s household. It is important to realize how much water your household is using and where water is being used the most. Washing machines and toilets are the two top household appliances that regularly use and waste the most amount of water. Constant use of running the dishwasher, faucet water, and sprinkler system can also contribute highly to water waste. Try researching the different types of appliances you have at home and comparing them with their newer energy efficient counterparts.


5 Tips: How can I better conserve water?

  1. Check your home for leaks
    Check areas in your home such as faucets and pipes for any potential leaks. A small drip from a leaky sink can amount to 20 gallons of water lost per day! Though it is not always obvious, toilets are also prone to getting leaks. A good way to test for toilet leaks can be done with little effort and a short amount of time. Simply add a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank and without flushing, check the color of the water in the toilet bowl after 30 minutes. If the color has made its way into the toilet bowl, you know your toilet is leaking!
  1. Check your water meter for hidden leaks
    Test your home for any water leaks by taking note of your home’s water meter. Do not use the water for a two-hour time period and if there is a change in the water meter’s readings, then you have a leak.
  1. Minimize shower time
    Did you know spending those two extra minutes in the shower can result in a loss of 4-6 gallons of water? Be conscious of your water usage and make it a goal to take shorter showers. Consider turning off the water when soaping, rather than letting the water constantly run. Also consider shaving outside of the shower where you can better control your water use.
  1. Avoid constantly running faucet water
    Whether you are doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or washing your hands, turn the water off when it is not in direct use. When you are using the water, be conscious of how much water you are letting out of the faucet and do not keep the water running at full blast.
  1. Upgrade old appliances
    Washing machines, toilets, and showers are the top sources of water waste within the home. Think about investing in high-efficiency appliances that will help save hundreds of gallons of water in just one year after instillation.
List of Links:
List of Books:
Sources used:

What is a watershed?

A watershed is the geographic area of land that all drains to a common waterway. Imagine you are a raindrop and you fall from the sky and land in Henry Cowell State Park. You’re going to travel from the spot where you landed to the San Lorenzo River. That means, that you’re in the San Lorenzo River watershed. Alternatively, if you (as a raindrop) fell in downtown Watsonville, you’re going to travel to the Pajaro River before entering the Monterey Bay. That puts downtown Watsonville in the Pajaro River watershed.

Since a watershed is made up of several components that are all part of the “big watershed picture,” it is important to remember that what happens on the land can affect the water. For example, if a river or stream flows through an agricultural area, it can pick up fertilizer, manure, and pesticides from farming operations that run off the land after a rainstorm. And it the river flows through an urban area, it can pick up chlorine, copper and other urban pollutants that run off of people’s yards and driveways after a rainstorm.


5 tips: How can I help my local watershed?

  1. Plant a rain garden
    A rain garden looks like a typical garden but acts as a sponge that can easily absorb runoff that would otherwise make its way into the storm drain. Rain gardens are able to efficiently use and absorb runoff rather than letting it become a watershed pollution.
  1. Plant trees
    Planting trees is another helpful way to keep runoff from entering our watersheds. In areas where soil is not surrounded by much plant life, the soil is vulnerable and can quickly become a runoff pollutant. With trees rooted into the soil, runoff is absorbed and risk for erosion decrease. Soil is the number one most abundant runoff pollutant, and planting trees is a simple and efficient way to help reduce soil runoff!
  1. Explore!
    Explore your local area and pay attention to the topography of your community. Explore your local streams, taking note of the habitats they flow through and what wildlife live nearby. Pay attention to how the water interacts with the environment and figure out where the stream starts and finishes. Utilize topographic maps to figure out where water flows through your community and what an important role watersheds play in everyday life.
  1. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning supplies
    Many household cleaning supplies contain chemicals that are often times not discarded of properly. Avoid spreading potential pollutants by substituting toxic household chemicals for eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Organic or eco-friendly cleaning supplies omit the risk of toxic pollutants entering our watersheds.
  1. Properly care for your septic tank
    Your septic tank should be pumped and cleaned at least once every three years. Some tanks should be pumped more frequently depending on the size of the tank and the climate where you live. Those who experience cooler climates may have to clean their septic tanks more often than those in warmer climates. Without the proper care, septic tanks pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and other bacteria will make their way into nearby watersheds.
List of links:
List of Books:

What is Climate change?

Climate is the combination of temperature, precipitation, and humidity in a given location. With an array of different climates, there is also an array of ecosystems. Different ecosystems exist under the varying types of climates, and are limited within a certain climate range. When climate change occurs, ecosystems become disturbed due to the change in weather. Global climate has been steadily increasing throughout these last few years and this change threatens numerous ecosystems that can only tolerate a certain type of climate.

What causes Climate change?
Climate change is caused by both natural forces and by human activity. It results from excessive amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The usage of coal, oil, and gas are the three major contributors to carbon dioxide emissions. Developed countries are dependent on these resources to supply our country with energy every single day. But at the rate of consumption, these heat-trapping gasses are slowly warming up the Earth, resulting in a rise in global temperatures.

How does Climate change affect the water cycle?
With an increase in climate change, the Earth experiences an increase in extreme weather. The planet is more prone to natural disasters such as floods, storms, and droughts due to the change in climate. With these irregular disturbances the timing, amount, flow, and distribution of water changes as well. This can decrease the quality of freshwater, endangering both human and wildlife health. Glaciers and ice caps are expected to melt faster, producing less amount of snow, and increasing acidity levels in the oceans.


5 Tips: How can I help reduce climate change?

  1. Use public transportation
    Instead of taking your car out every time you are headed out of the house, first evaluate your other options. Using public transportation can help reduce the amount of pollution produced on the roads, reducing potential heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Get into the habit of finding eco-friendly way of commuting by using the bus system, biking to work, or carpooling with friends.
  1. Drive smart
    Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid using your own car for long commutes, but there are still several ways you can drive and minimize your carbon footprint. By maintaining your car through regularly scheduled tune-ups and smog checks, your car will be as fuel-efficient as it can be. Keeping your tire pressure at the recommended rate, using cruise control when possible, and being gentle and conscious with the gas and brake pedal, you can actively help lower your gas emissions.
  1. Plant trees
    Trees act as sponges for carbon dioxide, absorbing gases during photosynthesis and regulating the abundance of gases in the atmosphere. Trees are able to help keep the Earth cool by playing a major role in the water cycle. Trees retain and release water into the atmosphere, helping maintain consistency in water flow and distribution. Water that trees help release during evaporation turn into clouds that are able to deflect and reduce exposure to harmful solar radiation.
  1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
    By following these three steps you can make a tremendous difference in your carbon dioxide footprint. By reducing your consumption of goods you can help to reduce the amount of natural resource extraction needed to meet the consumer’s demand. By reusing goods you already possess you can learn to live more sustainably and less dependent on constant consumption of goods. Recycling items that you no longer need can help keep trash out of landfills and help to keep emissions low.
  1. Update old appliances
    Older appliances use up more energy than their newer energy saving counterparts. Identify which of your appliances could use an upgrade, and consider replacing it with an energy efficient model to help reduce carbon emissions. Investing in a new washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, showerhead, or toilet would be the most effective way to help reduce your carbon footprint. Look for products that contain the Energy Star label to better identify energy efficient products!
List of Links:
List of Books:
Sources used:

What is considered drinkable water in the city of Santa Cruz?

A whopping 100% of water in Santa Cruz comes from local rainfall. Local surface water supplies the city with 95% of its drinkable water while groundwater makes up the remaining 5%. Surface water collects in the form of lakes, creeks, and rivers, and is than channeled into the local Loch Lomond reservoir. The water from this reservoir is piped to the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant where it undergoes the processes to becoming drinkable water for our city. This water is then distributed to the residents in the City of Santa Cruz under one water system. This means that all of the water in your home is considered drinkable water.

Where are these water sources located?
The city of Santa Cruz is highly depended on water that comes from the San Lorenzo River, as well as Majors Creek, Laguna Creek, and Liddel Spring. The one and only reservoir in the City of Santa Cruz is the Loch Lomond Reservoir. This reservoir can hold up to 2.8 billion gallons of water.


List of Links:
List of Books:
Sources used:
General list of Environmental Books for Children: