Stormwater group sponsors education project

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM, Apr. 1, 2011 -- A multi-agency group in New Mexico, dedicated to educating the public about how to reduce stormwater pollution to the Rio Grande, is sponsoring 10 local elementary classrooms to participate in an educational program called RiverXchange.

River Xchange partners Albuquerque classes with classes in nine states, including Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, Kentucky, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina; two Canadian provinces, including Calgary and Manitoba; and a U.S. military base school in Aviano, Italy. The project uses the local river, the Rio Grande, as a tool to teach about major water resource issues.

The unique, year-long project educates fifth graders on river water issues and links them with other fifth-graders from throughout the world through interactive class wikis.

This year, a new hands-on, math-based activity called "Don't Trash Our Rio" includes information about the area's stormwater drainage network, which contains approximately 722 miles of storm pipes, 33 miles of lined channels, 18 miles of unlined arroyos, 12,300 storm manholes, and 16,100 storm inlets.

The group sponsoring the Albuquerque program is the Mid Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team (MGRSQT), which is comprised of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque, the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the University of New Mexico and the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Vernon Hershberger, MRGSQT chair and environmental health manager at the University of New Mexico, said the group views the program as "a unique, effective way to educate students on stormwater issues and watershed effects on the Rio Grande."

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