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A mock flash flood created at the Open Charter Elementary School in Westchester, Calif., demonstrated the effectiveness of the site's watershed management plan. Photo: TreePeople

An environmental group, community leaders, and educators joined in March to create a mock flood at a California elementary school, demonstrating the effectiveness of the site's watershed management plan.

Members of the Open Charter Elementary School community in Westchester, Calif., joined environmental group TreePeople and various local school and park officials to create a 4000-gallon flash flood using a water tanker and fire hoses. The resulting downpour swept across the campus, collecting trash and pollutants. Instead of flushing the pollutants out to the Santa Monica Bay, the water was diverted through a cleaning unit and into an underground tank where it was stored and used to irrigate trees and grass playing fields.

The demonstration was part of an event celebrating the completion of a five-year infrastructure project at the site.

“This project transformed our school into a beautiful oasis with grass ballfields, trees, and gardens that actually help protect the surrounding neighborhood and the beach,” said school principal Robert Burke. “The kids love tending to the trees and plants and watching things grow—it's a great way to teach about caring for the natural world.”

The stormwater component of the project was funded by a $500,000 grant from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. The city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power funded the landscaping and trees through its Cool Schools program. For more information, visit www.treepeople.org.