The Coast News Group

EUSD awards bids for student projects

ENCINITAS — Students at three Encinitas Union School District campuses involved with a stormwater pollution prevention program are about to see the plans they created become a reality.

Beginning in April, contractors will begin to construct the projects at El Camino Creek, Flora Vista and La Costa Heights elementary schools, which were created by students as part of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan internship program.

The program allows for students to produce a plan to manage their school’s stormwater runoff, teaching them real-world lessons in science, best management practices in stormwater pollution prevention and engineering in the process.

All nine of the district’s campuses are involved with the SWPPPs program, but the grant will pay for five of the school’s projects, with the three aforementioned schools coming online first.

On March 14, the Encinitas Union School District enthusiastically voted to approve the contracts, which will allow for the construction to take place during spring break, in front of students in the SWPPP program and their adult mentors.

The students in the program will be on hand during the break to oversee the projects’ completion.

Students at that meeting gave a presentation about the respective projects and each offered a testimonial about the program.

“Pretty much we make a giant plan, it’s in a giant binder, and then we present it to these people, and they might put some of these things in action, if they are cheap enough,” one of the students said.

The projects are being funded through a $700,000 grant that the district received in 2015, which SWPPP director Bill Dean applied for.

Camille Sowinski, who is on the program’s board of directors, said that the students have come up with a variety of plans to divert pollution from our waterways. Some are small enough that the schools can do them on their own, while others required funding and approval from the school board.

Sowinski said that the internship program, which is in its fourth year, provides a glimpse into the direction the district wants to head in terms of how it educates students.

“They are involved every step of the way, and they are getting hands-on, real-world experience on the things they are learning about,” Sowinski said. “And in the process, they are doing something that will effect a major change on the environment.”

At El Camino Creek, the student plan includes the creation of several bio-retention areas in the campus quad and new rain barrels to collect and store runoff during peak storm events.

La Costa Heights students noticed oil and grease from the parking lot draining directly into the storm drain, and their plan includes a bio-retention basin to filter run off before it leave the campus.

Flora Vista students chose to mitigate stormwater pollution in their parking lot by way of a bio-filtration strip in their campus parking lot.