To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Congress, our nation's Governors, including Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, and many national organizations proclaimed 2002 as the Year of Clean Water and October 2002 as Clean Water Month. (See the Governor's official proclamation -- 180KB) Throughout the year, America’s Clean Water Foundation and other agencies sponsored several national events to celebrate this important federal environmental law. (See other Nationwide events.)

Nevada Captures Second Place at the National Youth Watershed Summit

Four Nevada high school students and their teacher advisor captured second place at the National Youth Watershed Summit held in Maryland during October 2002. Over 280 students and teachers representing 42 states participated in the event hosted by America’s Clean Water Foundation (ACWF) and the Smithsonian Institution. The summit was one of many events held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

As stated by ACWF President Robbi Savage, "The goal of the Youth Watershed Summit is to encourage the next generation to ready themselves for the transfer of responsibility in protecting and preserving our nation's valuable water resources. We are inviting these talented youth to help them develop as new leaders who will carry the commitment to our waters forward in the coming years."

Nevada’s delegates to the Summit were selected by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection from a statewide pool of highly qualified applicants, based on their expressed interest in the environmental sciences and commitment to share the knowledge gained at the summit with their schools and state officials.
Teacher Delegate:
Sue Moreda, Biological Sciences Educator
Dayton High School
Dayton, NV
Student Delegates:
Dylan Conlin, Senior
Fernley High School
Fernley, NV

Ann Larquier, Junior
Douglas High School
Minden, NV

Jim Wilberger, Junior
Las Vegas Academy
of International Studies,
Performing and Visual Arts
North Las Vegas, NV

Greg Bryant, Senior
Mineral County High School
Hawthorne, NV
We were one of the only states with students from all over, and I think that made us work harder and get more diversity in our report," claimed Ann Larquier, the only
The delegation team was tasked with developing an exhibit highlighting a local water issue to present at the Summit. After gathering information on a wide range of topics, the Nevada delegates decided to study water quality and quantity issues within the Walker River Basin. Throughout the summer, they conducted research and traveled throughout the Basin to interview local residents representing all sides of the controversies surrounding water use of the Walker River and Walker Lake. "Their project was very unique, not just in the U.S., but in the world, because Walker Lake is a terminal lake with no outlet," said Tom Porta, Chief of the Bureau of Water Quality Planning. "We're hoping this will help us get some public awareness about Walker Lake and also other water issues in Nevada."

Nevada’s exhibit included water quality and quantity data, and pictures and quotes from water users throughout the Walker River Basin. Summit student participants tasted water containing the same level of salts (about 14,000 parts per million) currently measured in Walker Lake, and after reading the display, tested their new-found knowledge with an electronic quiz board.
See Photos of Nevada's Exhibit  

The Nevada team was awarded Second Place for their exhibit highlighting water quality / quantity issues in the Walker River Basin.

"We didn't know there would be awards during the workshop," said Sue Moreda. "But when we got there and set our project up, we stood back and felt proud. We also looked around and saw that there was a lot of competition, with 48 other teams there." Larquier, 16, who plans to pursue environmental science in college, enjoyed meeting students from different States. "We were all there to learn about water and environmental issues and it was fun to see and discuss projects developed by other

View Additional Photos of Nevada's Team accepting second place award
Since 1900 Walker Lake's water level has dropped 140 feet, approximately 70 percent of its volume. The resulting increase in total dissolved solids (TDS) or salts now threatens the fish population and wildlife that depend on the lake such as loons, pelicans, grebes, and other migratory waterfowl. From June to September 2002, the TDS concentration rose from 12,000 milligrams per liter (mg/l) to greater than 13,000 mg/l. The Tui Chub and Lahontan Cutthroat trout that live in the Lake cannot survive at concentrations greater than 16,000 mg/l. Drought and upstream irrigation contribute to the problem.

Some suggested solutions for saving Walker Lake and its fish include cloud seeding, lining irrigation ditches with concrete, switching from flood to sprinkler irrigation, laser leveling fields, planting water-efficient crops, re-channeling portions of the river, controlling beaver populations and removing Tamarisk (salt cedar). (Hiller, Linda. Reno Gazette Journal, 10/02/02)
Student delegate Dylan Conlin's strong interest in science didn't prepare him for how complicated a watershed issue like Walker Lake could be. "I learned that in the West, water is scarce, especially during a drought, and there's this huge battle between everyone who thinks they need water."

"We weren't expected to come up with a solution; adults can't even come up with a solution," Ann Larquier explains. "But it will take a lot of compromise, and of course, the best thing to happen right now would be a hard winter."
In addition to the Project Fair, delegates participated in a series of educational, hands-on experiences relating to restoring and protecting watersheds. This included a virtual tour and study of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, participation in a series of lab experiences, a canoe trip and a visit to the Baltimore Aquarium.

National Youth Watershed Summit Events (See Photo Album)

View Photos of Chesapeake Bay and River Trip

"A favorite part of the Summit for me was the national aquarium in Baltimore where we saw a dolphin show,", stated Jim Wilberger, 16, delegate from North Las Vegas. For Conlin, touring Washington, D.C., was a highlight. "I liked seeing the Capitol and getting our picture taken all together in Washington," he said. "It was also interesting canoeing and seeing Chesapeake Bay and how muddy the water was." Moreda, a 21-year veteran science teacher from Dayton High School, said the highlight for her was learning things she'll use in her oceanography class at Dayton High School.
First place went to the team from Maine, who identified problems of the Atlantic salmon and designed a native stock nursery to provide fish stock to the community. Nebraska placed third for a statewide groundwater project.

Soon after their return to Nevada, the students and teacher advisor were invited to the office of Gov. Kenny Guinn where they spoke with him and had a formal photo taken. After hearing a brief summary of the group's accomplishments, Guinn spoke to the group about the water needs of Nevada, the driest state. "Water is such an important issue, it's good to see young people getting interested in this subject," he said. "Surprisingly, northern Nevada has more of a shortage than the south." Gov. Kenny Guinn congratulated the Nevada Govern Guinn with Nevada delegatesdelegation team for their work on their presentation of the Walker River basin and watershed at the National Youth Watershed Summit. "Placing second in this competition is a remarkable accomplishment," Gov. Guinn said. "Your fine work on Walker Lake, Nevada was featured prominently at the summit."

The next step for the Nevada team members will be to present their report to the state environmental commission hearing in early 2003. In March, the project will be on display at Western Nevada Community College's science and engineering fair and will also tour other locales in the state. "I am hoping this (exhibit) will open people's eyes to what is happening at Walker Lake," said team member Greg Bryant, who lives near the lake in Hawthorne and still fishes there.

Governor Guinn Congratulates Nevada Team                   

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