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EMWD Partners to Promote Water Efficient Landscapes at Schools

Columbia garden dedication ceremony.

More than 200 students joined officials from both agencies and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which provided significant grant funding toward a larger umbrella program aimed at making schools more water efficient.

The garden was planted and will be maintained by Columbia Elementary School students with the support of school district staff.

EMWD secured $1.4 million in grant funding from the Bureau of Reclamation to support turf-to-garden programs, water efficient devices such as irrigation controllers and water-saving sprinkler nozzles and turf removal that will result in more than 500,000 square feet of ornamental turf being converted to regionally appropriate landscaping. All of the funding has been exhausted.

“We are proud to have worked with our local schools and the Bureau of Reclamation on this program that will help save water for many years to come,” EMWD President David Slawson said. “Just as important, the students were able to play an active role in creating this garden and have learned valuable skills that will help them better understand the value of water and how enjoyable water efficient landscaping can be.”

Three other schools within the Val Verde Unified School District – Triple Crown, Vista Verde and May Ranch elementary schools – are anticipated to complete their gardens in the coming months. The garden program was offered to all schools within EMWD’s service area.

EMWD has used the grant funding to help other schools become more efficient with their landscaping. Menifee Union School District, Hemet Unified School District, Romoland Unified School District, Moreno Valley Unified School District, San Jacinto Unified School District, and Val Verde are undertaking turf removal programs that are supported through the Bureau of Reclamation funds.

The areas targeted for turf removal are not active recreational areas on the school sites. EMWD has worked with the facility and maintenance teams at all of the school districts to identify areas at school sites that have grass with no functional benefit. Examples are grassy berms in areas where students do not recreate, ornamental turf in small areas, or areas between sidewalks and streets.

EMWD has long enjoyed a successful partnerships with schools in its service area. EMWD’s award-winning education program helps promote positive water use efficiency habits through a variety of educational programs, including field trips, classroom education programs, school assemblies and various water-themed contests each year.

“Val Verde Unified is proud to have partnered with EMWD on this important program that will not only allow us to save water, but also help our students learn about environmental responsibility,” Val Verde Superintendent Michael McCormick said. “This water efficient garden will have a long-lasting impact and allow us to do our part to ensure we are helping to conserve water for future generations.”