An award-winning middle school project by four female students on water conservation has become law.
Assembly Bill 1343, which encourages partnerships between California school districts and public water systems, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, July 21.
“This has gone beyond our expectations. I don’t think at the beginning we thought this would happen,” said 14-year-old Jessica Gallegos, one of four La Habra Water Guardians. “It’s been quite the adventure throughout all this time; to be able to start from the bottom and slowly want to do more and more.”
Introduced by four Sonora High students, and proposed by Assemblyman Phillip Chen, R-Brea, the bill allows water suppliers that offer water efficiency rebates to commercial and industrial users to also include K-12 schools.
In return, schools would use rebate incentives on plans to replace older, water-guzzling fixtures, including toilets, faucets and hose nozzles.
“Protecting our water resources and educating our students are not mutually exclusive,” Jim Byerrum, President of the Whittier-based California Domestic Water Company, a Water Guardians sponsor, said in a statement. “The Water Guardians have worked hard on this legislation that accomplishes both of these goals.”
The Guardians – made up of Fiona Paredes, 15; Skye Lim, 14; Angeline Dequit, 15 and Gallegos – formed in 2015, when Washington Middle School teacher Susan Pritchard suggested her students enter a national competition to identify an environmental issue and come up with a plan to address it.
Deep into the recent drought, the students proposed ways to reduce water usage at their school by 30 percent by installing drought-tolerant landscaping and drip-irrigation, as well as low-flow toilets and automatic faucets.
Changes have been made in response. And, the girls’ water-saving plan won them $25,000 at the competition.
“I always told the girls that I would work as hard as they do,” Pritchard said. “(I) asked…