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New EMWD Education Book Focuses on ‘Bee’-ing Water Wise

Beyond the Water-wise Garden book cover.

The annual contest is a collaboration between EMWD, Rancho California Water District (RCWD) and the schools within the two agencies’ service areas.

Each year, middle school students may enter a contest to write and illustrate a fiction book about a water-related topic. The winners are chosen by EMWD and RCWD staff and are used in grade-appropriate curriculum through EMWD’s and RCWD’s education programs.

This marks the tenth year of the program and there are now 18 books about a variety of water topics.

The new book is “Bee”yond the Water-Wise Garden, written by Natalia Fernandez, Jude McLean, Paulina Ortega and Vanessa Ycu of Vista Verde Middle School in the Val Verde Unified School District. Ycu also illustrated the full-color book.

In “Bee”yond the Water-Wise Garden, a young girl named Alice is frightened of bees and tries to scare them off by spraying them with water, to the discouragement of her father who works to educate her on the importance of the bees and saving water.
That night, Alice has a dream where she is a bee and gains a whole new perspective on the role that bees play in pollination of plants and food crops. She also learns the value of water conservation.

“We hope that students, parents and teachers will be abuzz about this new book,” said Malea Ortloff, who manages EMWD’s award-winning classroom education program. “These students did an un-bee-lievable job writing and illustrating this story on how important bees are while also encouraging everyone to use water wisely.”

EMWD has also worked to protect the bee population through its bee removal program. Customers who come across a beehive in their water meter box are encouraged to contact EMWD, which contracts with a local beekeeping company to have the hives removed while working to preserve the bees so they may be used for pollination and educational purposes.

Bees are responsible for the pollination of about $15 billion worth of crops each year in the United States, including about 130 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. A healthy bee population ensures more abundant crops and many high-value crops rely on commercial beekeeping operations.

A classroom curriculum that meets Common Core standards will be developed with “Bee”yond the Water-Wise Garden and be introduced as part of EMWD’s classroom education program in the 2019-20 school year. The book will be used in the third through fifth grade levels, while grades Kindergarten through second will incorporate books from previous years’ contests.

The 2018-19 Write-Off contest will highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy sewer system. Stories are due by November 16, 2018.

“Bee”yond the Water-Wise Garden and all of EMWD’s educational books are available as eBooks on EMWD’s website at

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Eastern Municipal Water District is the water, wastewater service and recycled water provider to approximately 816,000 people living and working within a 555-square mile service area in western Riverside County. It is California’s sixth-largest retail water agency and its mission is “To deliver value to our customers and the communities we serve by providing safe, reliable, economical and environmentally sustainable water, wastewater and recycled water services.” More information can be found at

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“Bee”yond the Water-Wise Garden eBook Cover