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STEWARDSHIP AND RESTORATION THROUGH SCHOOL-BASED WATERSHED EDUCATION AND MONITORING

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The Rouge River watershed in southeastern Michigan is highly urbanized, comprised of the west side of Detroit and 47 surrounding communities. The major sources of pollution in the river's recent history have been non-point source, resulting from a combination of impervious surfaces, the everyday actions of more than 1.5 million watershed residents, and stormwater runoff (Mangus, 2001; Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project, 1998). Because of this, public education and outreach are key to reducing pollution and restoring the river.

The Rouge Education Project (REP), coordinated by the non-profit organization Friends of the Rouge, promotes awareness and stewardship of the Rouge River watershed through school-based water quality monitoring, investigation and problem solving. Today, the program involves nearly 100 elementary, middle and high schools annually, with more than 7,000 students participating each year. Participating students monitor chemical, biological and physical parameters of water quality. Students are encouraged to analyze the data they collect and develop and implement action projects to benefit the river based on their findings. The REP provides extensive support to participants, and the program receives support from numerous, diverse partnerships.

Although no formal program evaluation has been conducted, evidence suggests that the REP is meeting its goals and developing environmental stewards. The REP faces numerous challenges, but may prove instrumental in achieving long-term reductions in non-point source pollution and restoring the Rouge River.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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