Seep Off the Grass
Main Topic of Video: Developing strategies to minimize water runoff from lawns.
- Describe the vegetation around your house. Do you have a lawn that is watered?
- How do you use water around your yard?
- Do you have any family rules about outside water usage?
- How is water usage related to sustainability?
- Why is it important to have access to clean water?
- What does evaporation mean?
- What is the problem this family is facing?
- What is the first thing they try in order to fix the problem?
- What is water runoff?
- According to the Green Ninja, what is the best way to set sprinklers and why?
- What happens after the family resets the sprinklers?
- What new ideas did you learn from this video?
- List one person with whom you can share your new understanding of sustainable sprinkler use.
- What do you think happens to the water after it runs off from the lawn?
- Describe another time you saw water collect on a sidewalk or street.
- What are some of the benefits of water conservation for the family in the video?
ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Student answers will vary. Some students might live in more urban dwellings without lawns, and if so, ask them to describe the vegetation around a single-family home they’ve seen on television or in a movie.
- Student answers will vary. They might water a lawn or garden, wash a car, engage in summer-time sprinkler play, maintain a pool, etc.
- Student answers will vary. They might only be allowed to use water during certain times of the day, or for specific activities.
- The management of (and access to) clean water is goal #6 from the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This goal in its entirety is below:
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally
6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
6.a by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
6.b support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management
- From the EPA fact sheet on The Clean Water Rule for Communities, “Clean water is vital for our health, communities and economy.” Access to clean drinking water is important in order to prevent the spread of disease. Many recreational activities rely on clean water, and economic drivers such as manufacturing facilities, power plants, and beverage companies all require access to clean water.
- Evaporation is the changing from the liquid to the gaseous phase. Warm temperatures and exposure to the sun can accelerate the evaporation of surface water.
- The water runoff from the lawn sprinklers is wasting water.
- Set the sprinklers to water at nighttime.
- Water that runs off into the street instead of sinking into the soil.
- 5 minutes at 3, 4 and 5 a.m. Watering after the sun goes down means that water won’t be lost to evaporation. Watering for short intervals prevents over-watering.
- The water is all absorbed into the soil and the grass; there is no more runoff.
- Answers will vary depending on experience. Most students aren’t aware of the timing and duration of sustainable watering.
- Answers will vary – perhaps a parent or relative with a lawn.
- If students live in an urban environment, the water could go to a wastewater treatment facility, where it is filtered, disinfected, and released back into the environment. See additional topics below for more information on wastewater treatment.
- Answers will vary. Most students have seen puddles form during a rainstorm. They might have seen water collect from a broken house pipe or watering hose left on.
- Benefits to the family include saving money on their water bill, a healthier lawn and soil, and a decreased impact on the local communal water supply.
ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
Encourage students to create informative posters for their classroom or school that advocate for water conservation. Have them pick one of the “20 ways kids can help to save water” from the water page as their poster topic.
The state of New Jersey has published an activity book for K-6 students about water issues. Students can complete a maze, read a water meter, make a water filter and do a water inventory (among other activities).
There are several virtual tours of wastewater treatment facilities available online for students who are interested in learning about how water is cleaned. This 10 minute video from the Water Environment Foundation describes the process in detail.
Daly City provides pictures and a virtual tour of their water treatment facility.
The Water Project has an interactive tutorial on the water cycle and lesson plans surrounding the issue of access to clean water.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) has created a lab investigation for high school students called “The Energy of Evaporation” which explores evaporation rates and temperature changes for several different liquids.
For middle school aged students, the ACS has an inquiry unit on states of matter, including readings, a lab investigation which explores the effect of temperature on evaporation rate, and student worksheets.
Paving (sometimes called sealing or referred to as impervious surfaces), has a large effect on the natural water cycle. This is a link to an informative brochure called How Urbanization Affects the Water Cycle. The graphic below easily explains this impact.
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has a comprehensive list of sustainable practices and resources for lawn care. Among the practices are the use of native plants and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques that minimize pesticide use.
From the website soilquality.org, the benefits of soil include:
Green Ninja Show has another episode about domestic water conservation called Shower of Power!
Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Lee Pruett.