Community Education

Middle School Lesson Plans

This collection of lesson plans on watershed and water quality topics was drawn from a wide variety of sources, and is designed to provide local middle school teachers with interesting and practical SOL-based hands-on science activities. The activities were also chosen for their suitability for use in preparation for, and reinforcement of, “Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE).”

MWEE stands for Meaningful Watershed Education Experience. As defined by the Chesapeake Bay Program, a MWEE is an investigative or experimental project that engages students in thinking critically about the Bay watershed. MWEEs are not intended to be quick, one-day activities; rather, they are extensive projects that allow students to gain a deep understanding of the issue or topic being presented. Students participate in background research, hands-on activities and reflection periods that are appropriate for their ages and grade levels. These experiences

… are investigative or project oriented.
… are richly structured and based on high-quality instructional design.
… are an integral part of the instructional program.
… are part of a sustained activity.
… consider the watershed as a system.
… involve external sharing and communication.
… are enhanced by natural resources personnel.
… are for all students.

Watershed Education Lesson Plans are in PDF format and arranged by chapters.

Cigarette Litter

Many smokers discard cigarette butts on the ground, perhaps believing that cigarette litter is too small to have a significant effect on water quality. However, cigarette litter is easily carried into storm drains when it rains, where it is deposited in local streams and rivers. Nationwide, about 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are dropped on the ground annually. About 95% of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a plastic that persists in the environment for years and even decades. Cigarette filters concentrate a number of very toxic substances, which are released into our waterways when they are washed off roads and sidewalks into storm drains.  More info

Click on the images below for full size educational posters on this topic:






Food Service Industry

There are a variety of ways that food service businesses (restaurants, cafes, etc.) can unintentionally pollute stormwater, although there are simple practices that can help prevent this pollution. Both the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle have regulations that prohibit the discharge of any non-stormwater flow into the storm sewer system. A goal of RSEP is to help businesses avoid enforcement measures by providing information to them about ways to recycle, or safely dispose of, substances that could otherwise end up in local streams and rivers. More info

Click below for a brochure that provides tips to avoid regulatory enforcement by adopting food service industry best management practices as a regular part of doing business:

Food Service Brochure Thumbnail

Vehicle Washing, Maintenance, & Repair

Anyone who owns a car or truck, knows that it must be maintained and repaired once in a while. Vehicles contain a wide variety of highly toxic substances, including gasoline, motor oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, anti-freeze and heavy metals, presenting a high potential for pollution of local water resources. Most local vehicle service centers are aware of their responsibility to keep potential pollutants out of the stormdrain system and they have instituted good workplace practices with that purpose in mind. However, every year in the U.S., millions of gallons of used motor oil, chemicals, and other wastes are disposed of illegally – down a storm drain or in the trash. Whether you are a “do-it-yourselfer” or you use commercial service centers, the following information will help us all minimize pollution related to our vehicle: More info

Vehicle Repair and Maintenance Info:

Used Motor Oil
  • Did you know 1 quart of motor oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water? Pouring motor oil down a storm drain will send it directly into streams, rivers and reservoirs, making that water unfit for drinking and recreational uses such as swimming and fishing.
  • Disposing of oil by pouring it on the ground can result in similar contamination of ground water and local wells.
  • Used motor oil should always be recycled. The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority accepts motor oil (and antifreeze) at the Material Utilization Center in Ivy. Also, check with an oil change service or auto parts or repair shop, as most recycle motor oil free of charge.
Vehicle Washing

Ever wonder where all that water goes after it runs off your driveway? This water does not get treated and carries pollutants such as oil, detergents, and cleansers into storm drains where it flows directly into local streams and eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay. To help keep our water clean, consider using biodegradable cleaning products, and wash your car on the lawn instead of the driveway. Even better, take your car to a carwash facility that recycles its wash water.

Vehicle Washing Info:

Pet Waste

When rainwater flows over areas containing pet waste, the runoff carries nutrients, bacteria, and other pollutants from your pets’ waste into local streams, water supplies, and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to the environmental impacts of pet waste, children who play outside are at risk of infection from bacteria and parasites found in pet waste. Dog waste can spread infections such as campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, roundworms, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis, giardiasis, and cryptosporidiosis. More info

Follow these simple tips to minimize the environmental and health risks of pet waste:

  • Always clean up after your pet.
  • Never dispose of pet waste down a storm drain.
  • Bag dog waste and place it in the trash or take it home and flush it down a toilet.
  • Encourage other pet owners to be responsible.

Click on the following posters if you would like to print and display them to increase awareness of the impacts of pet waste on our waterways: