Arizona Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) – School Water Audit Program (SWAP)

Research Year: 

The Southwest’s continuing drought makes water conservation critical. Research shows that students can be conduits to educate parents and guardians and even local decision makers about water stewardship. With both youth and adult audiences in mind, the School Water Audit Program (SWAP) was developed with the motto “SWAPping Water Waste for Water Efficiency.”

Description of Action: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension professionals led teachers, volunteers and students in implementing two SWAP pilot projects conducted with middle school students during the 2008-09 school year. At Wilson K-8, 10 volunteers spent more than 100 hours performing water audits with 100 sixth graders. Tucson Water donated 200 aerators, 100 low-flow shower heads, 100 shower timers, 100 toilet flappers and hundreds of dye tabs. At Cottonwood Middle School, 18 volunteers—including the mayor and the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources Active Management Area—donated over 100 hours working with 120 seventh graders. The City of Cottonwood provided 270 aerators, 72 catch cans, and 250 dye tabs. The four teachers involved with SWAP at those schools participated in training and used the 12-unit (150-page) School Water Audit Program (SWAP) peer-reviewed curriculum. They presented their experiences with SWAP at the National Science Teacher Association conference in Phoenix, and continue to teach with and promote the program. A business provided funds to implement student recommendation in the next pilot of this program.


Wilson K-8 School: Student data analysis resulted in a projected water savings at Wilson K-8 of 225,000 gallons/year (a 44 percent savings on bathroom and classroom faucets) through the installation of faucet aerators. The annual financial savings through Wilson K-8 retrofits is about $1,200 using a rate of $3.58/Ccf or $.00479/gal. At students’ homes, through installation of 112 aerators, 99 shower timers, 85 shower heads and 79 dye tablets and toilet flappers, an estimated 2,486,480 gallons of water and $1,379 will be saved annually (using a water rate of $2.28/12,000 gallons). Cottonwood

Middle School: Student data analysis showed a projected water savings of 250,000 gallons/year (a 53 percent savings on bathroom and classroom faucets) at their school through the installation of faucet aerators. The annual financial savings through Cottonwood Middle School retrofits is about $1,400 using an assumed rate of $3.58/Ccf or $.00479/gal. Through the installation of aerators and use of dye tablets to detect leaks in 16 percent of the toilets at the students’ homes, an estimated 3,340,480 gallons of water and $10,355.49 will be saved annually (using a water rate $3.10/1,000 gallons and toilet savings calculations based on loss of 200 gallons/day for leaky toilets). APW nominated Cottonwood Middle School SWAP for the 2009 Excellence in Economic Development Award for Future Leaders, presented to them by the governor of Arizona at the Governor's Regional and Rural Development Conference in August 2009.

Volunteer hours for both schools were valued at close to $4,000, at the Independent Sector volunteer rate of $19.51 per hour.

Conact Name: 
Kerry Schwartz
Contact E-mail: