Greetings watershed educators! There is some really interesting information on this site and we will leave it up for access at anytime.  But we will not be posting any new information in the near future.  Thank you for participating in our workshops and engaging through this online format. We will continue to offer water-related professional development workshops which you can learn about through the listserv or on our official website at


Finding Fresh Water

How much fresh water is there around the world? The question seems like it would have an easy answer but UNC’s Tamlin Pavelsky will tell you that’s not the case.It turns out, if we need to know, for example, the total amount of water flowing through our rivers, the best estimate available could be off by about 40 percent. “We fundamentally don’t really know,” Pavelsky says.

The answer, though, may come from miles above Earth’s surface. Read more 

UNC IE Offers Three FREE Teacher Professional Development Water Workshops This Summer

Applications are now being accepted for all three.  Take a look!

EGRET Fellows Program

Summer Institute – June 24-26, 2014 | Goose Creek State Park Weekend Retreats – Fall 2014 | Medoc Mountain State Park and area; Spring 2015 | Lake Mattamuskeet and Ocracoke The EGRET Fellows Program is a year-long professional development programdesigned to engage 5th grade teachers in hands-on, inquiry-based activities integrated across content areas that will prepare them to incorporate current, place-based content into their classrooms, sparking their students’ interest in conservation and environmental stewardship. Fellows will interact with scientists, historians and non-formal environmental educators as they study the Tar-Pamlico river and Pamlico sound region during a summer institute and two weekend retreats in the watershed and engage in an online professional learning community. Application period for 2014-15 school year now open!

Landsat_Feb2009Seeing Water from Space

Using satellite and field data to evaluate our water resources August 12-13, 2014 | NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC Teachers will learn how experts use satellite and field data to understand the dynamics of water resources both regionally and globally, as well as manage our limited water resources. Participant will learn how to access and analyze Landsat images, precipitation, flow, and water storage data to evaluate regional water resources and predict changes in flow and water variability. Applications now being accepted!

Stream sampleEnvironment & Health: Water Quality Institute

July 22-24, 2014 | NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC During this 3-day teacher institute, teachers will participate in an in-depth investigation of the diverse environmental science, health and civics issues related to water quality in NC. Participants will explore watersheds and aquatic ecosystems of the North Carolina Piedmont, discover the effects of contaminated water sources on wildlife, ecosystems and human health, develop skills in watershed monitoring, learn about methods for addressing hazardous chemicals that threaten water quality, and interact with scientists researching cutting-edge water quality monitoring techniques and health effects of toxic contaminants. Applications now being accepted!


Carolina’s Pavelsky Receives Early Career Award

Image Credit:  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama named UNC-Chapel Hill Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Tamlin Pavelsky as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).  The PECASE awards represent the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their research careers.  Pavelsky was recognized for exceptional research and leadership advancing satellite remote sensing of river discharge, including enabling the broader community to develop and improve algorithms for NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Satellite Mission.  Pavelsky is among 102 researchers who will receive the awards. 

Applying Real Numbers to the Global Hydrologic Cycle

UNC Institute for the Environment held another successful teacher professional development workshop on July 30-31 at the NC Botanical Garden. Understanding Global and Regional Water Resources: The Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in North Carolina and Around the World, was attended by 22 energetic teachers who contributed greatly to the discussion about teaching remote sensing and water resources in the classroom. One of the products of this workshop is a lesson called Using Remote Sensing Data to Evaluate Water Resources in North Carolina. The workshop was part of a NASA New Investigator Program grant which is funding Dr. Tamlin Pavelsky, of the UNC Dept. of Geological Sciences, to map the river widths of all the rivers in the world. This data will assist hydrologists in measuring river discharge using satellite data.

Teachers enjoy presentation by hydrologist

Teachers enjoy presentation by hydrologist

The Bolin Creek Study: Getting Children out to the Stream

Some teachers are lucky enough to have an environment where they can teach interactive problem-solving, and application-based learning. One such teacher is Betsy Kempter, who teaches a class called the Bolin Creek Study at the UNC School of Education, Carolina Center for Educational Excellence (CCEE).

The Bolin Creek Study is an enrichment class for students 11 to 15 years of age, which looks at river system function and its associated biology and chemistry, with a heavy emphasis on the process of conducting experiments and learning the science by inquiry and problem solving. The first half of the year students look at physical and chemical attributes of water and in the second half, they look at the environment as a system; putting knowledge together with human impacts and other variables. Each class involves some lecture and lab experiment time during which students examine previously collected data and answer pre-lab questions. The beauty of the study is in the accessibility of the field site; students are actually able to visit Bolin Creek. The subject area engages the students to construct scientific knowledge that is immediately around them. Kempter believes that the students’ ability to have a direct interaction with the site really translates ‘schooling’ to ‘applying’. Kempter has worked with Michele Drostin of the UNC Institute for the Environment to integrate more labs into the course.

Kempter, having grown up around nature, is a strong believer of interactive learning. She feels that students that can monitor an environment in real-time by observing the impact of different events around the time that they happen gain a closer connection to nature. Water is easy to associate with and is a great subject to teach as it requires inexpensive and relatively straightforward equipment. The skills the students learn are beneficial with respect to experiments in all other sciences; collecting and analyzing data, observation, communication, team-work and collaboration for feedback, reporting and presentation. The hands-on experience that cannot be had at school revisits topics discussed in school, and drives the point home; especially when inputs and variables are manipulated with different results. Kempter says that “it is one thing to learn the vocabulary, but another to learn the language.” Writen by Pooja Ravindran

An Assessment of Capacity and Resource Needs of North Carolina Watershed Programs

The UNC Institute for the Environment, Water Resources Research Institute, Watershed Education for Community and Officials, Division of Water Quality (NCDENR) and Trianlge J Councils of Government conducted a needs assessment to identify existing watershed programs and resources, assess and document resource gaps and geographical coverage, and better understand program needs and networking opportunities. The full report can be found at teh following link.
NC Watershed Assessment May 2013 UNC

2013 is United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation (Resolution A/RES/65/154). In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation.

The objective of this International Year is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services. The Year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify burning issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and the linkages with the Millennium Development Goals.

for more information and to download a water cycle poster go to

The 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

An article published on the Scientific American website discusses issues that still remain to be addressed on the 40th anniversary of the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Go to the link for the full article:

For more information on the Clean  Water Act and to find k-12 education resources visit the EPA website at


Top 5 Water Worries for North Carolina

Larry Band, director of the Institute for the Environment and the Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor of Geography, discussed the top five water worries for North Carolina and the world.

See link for full article

EPA App: Check Waterway Quality Information

New App Lets Users
Check Health of Waterways Anywhere in the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
today launched a new app and website to help people find information on the
condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the United States
from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. Available at, the How’s My Waterway app and website uses GPS
technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about
the quality of local water bodies. The release of the app and website helps
mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which Congress
enacted on October 18, 1972, giving citizens a special role in caring for the
nation’s water resources. Forty years later, EPA is providing citizens with a
technology-based tool to expand that stewardship.

“America’s lakes, streams and rivers are national treasures. Communities and
neighborhoods across the U.S. want to know that their local lakes, rivers and
streams are healthy and safe to enjoy with their families,” said Nancy Stoner,
acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “This new app
provides easy, user-friendly access to the health of a waterway, whether it is
safe for swimming and fishing, and what is being done about any reported
problems. People can get this information whether researching at a desktop or
standing streamside looking at a smart phone.”

How It Works

SEARCH: Go to allow GPS-technology to identify the nearest streams, rivers or
lakes or enter a zip code or city name.

RESULTS: Instantly receive a list of waterways within five miles of
the search location. Each waterway is identified as unpolluted, polluted or
unas­sessed. A map option offers the user a view of the search area with the results
color-coded by assessment status.

DISCOVER: Once a specific lake, river or stream is selected, the How’s
My Waterway app and website provides information on the type of pollution
reported for that waterway and what has been done by EPA and the states to
reduce it. Additional reports and technical information is available for many
waterways. Read simple descriptions of each type of water pollutant, including
pollutant type, likely sources and potential health risks.

Do You Live In A Watershed?

Do You Live In A Watershed?

The most important first step in studying water with your students or encouraging your friends and neighbors to be better stewards of our streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries is to know what a watershed is! Do you know which watershed you live in? You should.

Investigating Stream Microbes and Their Role in the Carbon Cycle

We had a great workshop on November 5, 2012 at the NC Botanical Garden, presented by UNC Institute for the Environment and the Caroline Center for Educational Excellence. Educators received 4 new lessons and heard from researchers in the field. Sign up to follow this blog and learn about upcoming water-related workshops.

Cardinal Gibbons Partners with UNC Chapel Hill on Science Initiative

In the upcoming months AP Environmental Science teacher Dan Porter will work with a group of students on the Neuse Water Quality Research Project. The project is sponsored by UNC’s Institute for the Environment and the Department of Marine Sciences.
Michele Drostin of UNC’s Institute for the Environment, said that the project’s goal is to provide a field and laboratory experience for students and teachers that parallels the research occurring at UNC.
To that end, Porter said he and his students “will be part of a research team” that will work with professors as well as post doctoral, graduate, and under graduate students at UNC. He said the Gibbons students will collect water quality data that will be sent to the labs at UNC “for analysis of the overall health of the Neuse River.”

Sherif Ghobrial, from the UNC Department of Marine Science, instructs Dan Porter on water sample collection techniques.

“An integral part of the mission of Gibbons’ science teachers is to encourage environmental stewardship among our students. Mr. Porter has continually explored new avenues to involve our students in using the science that they learn in the classroom to better understand and explore the environment of the Triangle in which they live.”
“It is exciting to have our students partnering with local Universities in such meaningful real world activities.”
Excerpts reprinted  from a post from