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Water Can Save Winkler

2012 Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Seventh graders at George Washington Middle School tested water in tributaries of Holmes Run at the Winkler Botanical Preserve in Alexandria, and were concerned bout the extensive land development and an increase in impervious surfaces in the headwater areas of the small watersheds that supply them. From repeated testing of the water quality in the park, they could see that the streams are currently impacted by nutrient loads, particularly from nitrate deposition from automotive sources on nearby Interstate 395, and they wanted to ensure that planners were considering the impact of further development.

Working with the staff at the Preserve, the students initiated a water monitoring program to back their findings with data. They presented their findings before the Alexandria City Council at a public hearing on the neighborhood development plan and presented 416 signatures supporting a long term monitoring program and no increase in stormwater inflows to the Preserve. They also worked to draw public atention to the isue, writing a newspaper article for the Alexandria Gazeette-Packet, asking for community support and funding through Action Alexandria, and submitting questions for the Democratic City Council candidates’ forum in an election year.