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Previous Education Winners


The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center (SVAWPC) was opened in 2014 by the Santa Clara Valley Water District in partnership with the City of San José. The facility is the largest of its kind in Northern California. Using microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultra-violet light, the SVAWPC processes up to eight million gallons of secondary-treated effluent into advanced-purified water daily. Eventually the plant will produce up to 32 million gallons per day of high quality, drought-proof water. The advanced-purified water is currently used for irrigation and industrial uses, but eventually will augment drinking water supplies. Over the past few years, the SVAWPC has hosted hundreds of tours, targeting elected and business leaders, community leaders, neighboring water districts, regulatory agencies, environmental groups, the Latino and Asian-American communities and the general public. At the facility’s grand-opening, mayors, elected officials and other VIPs drank the advanced-purified water to demonstrate its purity, making local and national news. In 2015, outreach staff hosted 14 tours in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese in a single day, educating over 900 people about the benefits of advanced purified water. Over the last year, outreach staff hosted 1,757 visitors. 9 out of 10 attendees stated their support for using advanced-purified water for potable use in post-tour surveys.


For nearly two decades, Frank Jahn served as the Public Education Specialist at the Alameda County Water District (ACWD), which serves the cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City. During his tenure, he created revolutionary hands-on water saving programs that influenced hundreds of thousands of residents. Each year he provided direct program content to 20,000-25,000 students through assemblies and classroom programs. Students took home ideas and items to encourage conservation, including shower timers and toilet testing kits, reaching many additional family members. Under his leadership, the ACWD received the Claire A. Hill Award for its "Stop that Running Toilet" school outreach program, which is estimated to have saved 13 million gallons of water per year. He spearheaded an outreach program about drought tolerant plants that provided students with seeds of plants native to the service area. Frank also coordinated a very popular Water Conservation Poster and Slogan Contest for local schools that often garnered more than 2,000 entries per year. Winning entries were featured in a calendar distributed to every teacher in the ACWD service area.


ZunZun – Now in its 20th year, ZunZun is a husband and wife musical duo that presents water education assembly programs to K-8 schools throughout Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. Programs are bilingual, multicultural and incorporate high levels of audience participation to teach about water conservation and watershed protection. Using music, movement, instruments from around the world and lots of humor, ZunZun covers topics like leaky faucets and toilets, droughts, native plant gardens, storm drain pollution, sources of water and simple ways to save water at school and at home. ZunZun also creates parent newsletters and follow-up activities for students to continue their water education at home and back in the classroom. Activities have included take home CDs and DVDs, packs of water cards, drought tolerant native seed packets and posters. ZunZun currently reaches about 100,000 audience members per year (approximately 35,000 in Silicon Valley), and will give 250 performances this year alone. They have reached more than 1 million children over the past 20 years. Videos are available at


Acterra – Acterra has educated thousands of adults and youth about restoring natural ecosystem functions in local parks, open spaces and creeks, including recharging groundwater and improving stream health through installation of native plant species. Workshops teach residents how to convert their thirsty lawns to native gardens that require less water while supporting wildlife. Acterra has converted more than 7,000 square feet of lawns to native meadows with high efficiency irrigation systems through their School Meadows program, saving an estimated 200,000 gallons of water per year.  They retrofitted a truck to support a 250-gallon water tank that delivers recycled water to restoration sites, and they promote rainwater harvesting through educational workshops, showcasing a 400-gallon system they installed at the Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto. Acterra also created an irrigation demonstration that shows homeowners the difference between various irrigation heads and their efficiency.


EarthCapades – Founded in Pacifica in 1996, EarthCapades provides a vaudeville-style performance for students that effectively weaves comedy, circus skills, music and storytelling with clear lessons about Earth sciences and positive environmental choices. Their H2O Show promotes water awareness and engages the audience in the water cycle (i.e., journey of water from the clouds and rain, to rivers and lakes, through pipes and treatment plants, and into homes and schools). Audiences are inspired to respect, protect, and conserve water through EarthCapades interactive "Edutainment" presentations. In 2010, the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) began contracting with EarthCapades, and since then they have performed over 425 shows in the BAWSCA territory, reaching more than 90,000 students. Regionally, EarthCapades reaches more than 100,000 students each year. A video is available at


Linda Gass & Shaped by Water – Spearheaded by Linda Gass and a team of volunteers, "Shaped by Water: Past, Present and Future" is a traveling exhibition that examines the role of water and water conservation in shaping the history of Santa Clara Valley – and its future. This free interactive exhibit utilizes indoor and outdoor displays incorporating photographs, maps, videos, activities, sound and artwork to inspire a deepened connection to the water that sustains us. It asks the question: “Can history teach us to become better stewards of our water?” An interactive map of California allows visitors to press a button to identify the source of their water and locate local reservoirs, percolation ponds and other water supply infrastructure. A 72-foot long display features 153 one-gallon water bottles (the average daily per-capita water use in Santa Clara Valley) color-coded to show typical average use for landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, showers, etc. Another display explores a less obvious, but even more significant, use of water for producing our food. Visitors place model plates of various food items on the Hidden Water Scale, and carnival-style lights show how much water it took to produce a pound of each menu item. Installations of a laundry-to-landscape greywater wetland and a rainwater harvesting system demonstrate ways we can stretch water further, and visitors learn about the availability of home water audits and water conservation devices. "Shaped by Water" was initially on display at the Los Altos History Museum. It then traveled to the History Museum of Los Gatos, and is currently housed at History San Jose until September 8, 2013. Educational tours for elementary and high school students accompany each of the exhibitions. 


Tuolumne River Trust – In 2009 the Tuolumne River Trust initiated "That's the Tuolumne in my Tap," an environmental education program for 4th-6th grade students covering the source of their water, threats to the Tuolumne and ways to conserve water to help protect the River. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 18,000 students in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. During the 2010/11 school year, TRT staff and volunteers visited 387 classrooms and engaged more than 10,000 students. Participants follow up with water conservation activities such as a home water audit, a school water audit, an essay contest and a letter to their families focusing on ways they can save water at home. The program also includes a series of community service projects such as rainwater harvesting installations, native plant gardening and local watershed cleanups. 


Our City Forest is a tree planting organization in San Jose dedicated to cultivating a greener, healthier urban environment and a renewed sense of community. Their two educational programs, Planet Tree (geared toward students and Cub Scouts) and Green and Healthy (geared toward high school students and adults), address the need for water conservation. Planet Tree educates children about the importance of native trees and their drought-tolerant nature, and teaches them how they can save water in their homes and at school. Green and Healthy’s free community workshops provide high school students and adult participants with information and resources regarding water conservation, groundwater treatment and ways to make homes more “low flow.” Since 2007, Planet Tree has educated over 3,000 schoolchildren and 500 Boy Scouts, while Green and Healthy has reached more than 300 participants.


The California Landscape Contractors Association’s Water Management Certification Program helps today’s green industry professionals reduce landscape water usage using advanced irrigation technology and a water budget. Certification consists of two parts: a written test and a performance requirement managing a site to a water budget for a year.  The program has been well received by the industry and was approved for continuing education units by PLANET and the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System.


The California Native Plant Society cosponsored the “Going Native Garden Tour,” educating more than 3,500 people about the water conservation benefits of native plants.