Major Rivers February 2012

The Major Rivers program is a Texas-specific water education tool that provides water supply entities with a cost-effective and proven means of implementing school-based water conservation education.  For more than two decades, Major Rivers has been riding his horse Aquifer into 4th and 5th grade classrooms across Texas.

Originally launched by the Lower Colorado River Authority in 1989, the Major Rivers program was modified in 2003 into a statewide version that integrates water planning, conservation, Internet resources, and historical stories about Texas river basins.  Lessons in the curriculum are correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) learning standards for schools.  School education programs such as Major Rivers can result in both short- and long- term water savings, and implementation of Major Rivers is considered a water conservation best management practice.

To ensure water conservation education is affordable to cash-strapped school districts, the Major Rivers program is sponsored by water supply entities such as municipalities, river authorities, and groundwater conservation districts.  Since 2003, the Texas Water Development Board has partnered with an average of 54 sponsors each year to distribute a total of 16,906 classroom packages across the state.  In school districts including Corpus Christi Independent School District, Fort Worth ISD, Conroe ISD, and San Marcos ISD, among many others, approximately 56,000 students per year benefit from Major Rivers.

The Sabine River Authority of Texas has been sponsoring Major Rivers in schools in the Sabine River Basin since the program's inception.  “The students find the material fun and engaging, and the teachers find it well organized and easy to teach,” said Bill Kirby, assistant division manager at the Lake Fork Division of the Sabine River Authority.

The program reaches further than the classroom, though.  "Water is a renewable but finite resource.  Teaching the value of water conservation to our young people is one way that the Sabine River Authority is working to preserve and protect the waters of the Sabine River and Texas for future generations," Kirby said.

Joe Cooper is general manager of the Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, an organization that has sponsored Major Rivers since 2005.  He echoes Kirby's sentiments of the real-world value of Major Rivers, saying, "I believe water awareness is not as great as it needs to be, and Major Rivers is a great tool to enhance water knowledge."

The TWDB is taking orders for Major Rivers until March 1.  Information on educational packages and instructions for ordering are available.

In addition to producing and distributing Major Rivers, the TWDB offers educator workshops to provide teachers with the background knowledge and skills to build understanding about Texas water resources with their students.  Many of these workshops are offered in collaboration with regional water supply entities and Texas educational centers.  Workshops are offered based upon request and availability of staff.

For additional information about the Major Rivers program, please contact Sally Alderman at 512-463-5836 or sally.alderman@twdb.texas.gov or e-mail Conservation Education at consedu@twdb.texas.gov.

To view all of the K-12 educational resources offered by the TWDB, visit TWDB Kids.

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