by Emiline Hogg, Nampa Public Outreach Coordinator
What’s in the schools, in the parks, at the library, along the pathways, and in your pocket and makes the Boise River cleaner? It’s the City of Nampa Environmental Compliance Division (ECD) Outreach Program.
The Outreach Program was started in 2009 under the guidance of Cheryl Jenkins. ECD Superintendent Evan Jenkins now oversees ten staff members (pictured below) dedicated to surface water quality in the City of Nampa. The Outreach Program plays an important role in ECD’s efforts to engage local residents in improving water quality.
Stormwater From a Growing City
Nampa is Idaho’s third largest city with a population of more than 96,000 people. While Nampa doesn’t sit on the banks of the Boise River, Indian Creek and many other drains and canals head from Nampa to the Boise River. Stormwater from city streets and rooftops carries pollutants into these waterways. BREN’s Boise River Enhancement Plan identifies stormwater as a source of bacteria, sediment, temperature and other pollutants. Managing pollution onsite by preventing illicit discharge and infiltrating stormwater onsite is recommended as a water quality enhancement opportunity.
Education Programs Reach Diverse Audiences
ECD uses a wide variety of strategies to teach citizens of Nampa how to improve water quality. You’ll find them at community events like the Library Summer Reading Kickoff, the Pooch Party Splash, Nampa Trunk or Treat and National Night Out Block Party. ECD also hosts programs at the Nampa Public Library twice a month. Water Words Story Time provides an early introduction to water quality for Pre-K attendees and their parents. Weird Water is for youth ages 5-10, providing them with hands on activities that teach them about the properties of water and how pollution impacts our local water quality.
A 10-year partnership with the Nampa School District brings stormwater lessons to the classrooms and provides funding for field trips, classroom tools and materials, and teacher education. Of special note is Water Ed Day that involves nearly 600 4th grade students. Students learn from local water quality experts about our local watershed and how they can play an active role in improving it.
Short and catchy messages from the Outreach Program are shared via social media too. You can easily learn and share their clean water message with others.
Bilingual Programs and Materials
Many Nampa residents speak Spanish and, in 2016, ECD partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create bilingual outreach materials and programming. A bilingual Water Quality Camp travels to city parks that offer free meals for low-income residents to reaching a population often missed. After three summers, the program has been shared with 549 attendees at 12 parks, 1 library and 2 summer schools.
The partnership with the EPA also funded the design of two bilingual nature signs along the Wilson Creek Pathway. The signs share information about the Boise River Watershed and wildlife that can be found in Wilson Creek. A Demonstration Rain Garden will be constructed this summer. This garden will show two different styles of rain gardens that are each sized to accommodate the runoff of an average residential roof. This will allow visitors to see a rain garden in person and visualize how it could work in their own yard.
Nampa Environmental Compliance Division is always looking for new ways to reach out to the community and support local water quality efforts. If you have programming that we should be a part of or would like to partner with us at one of our events, please feel free to contact us (208) 468- 5839. Follow ECD’s efforts on Facebook @NampaECD .