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​Water Resources

“Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities”

For formal and nonformal educators, this story map shares information that can be readily incorporated into the Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) framework.

Reducing water pollution that has no boundaries is a challenge across the United States. But Pennsylvanians are becoming aware of the cost that unhealthy streams and rivers have for our quality of life and livelihoods. They’re taking actions on their farms, in their communities, and at their businesses and homes.

Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities

“Looking Below the Surface”

FoodChainGraphic.JPGMacroinvertebrates are the important link that connects aquatic plants and algae to fish species in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Their presence helps create a healthy ecosystem.

Macroinvertebrates spend all or most of their lives in the water, and they are relatively easy to collect and identify in the classroom. Consequently, they are used throughout the world as indicators of water quality. “Looking Below the Surface” can serve as an excellent introduction to students on the role of macroinvertebrates in determining water quality of local waterways. In preparation for conducting a stream assessment DEP has created three unique macroinvertebrate collection methods:

  1. Freestone Macroinvertebrate Collection Method
  2. Limestone Macroinvertebrate Collection Method
  3. Multihabitat Macroinvertebrate Collection Method

Looking Below The Surface

2022 Integrated Water Quality Report

DEP recently launched the 2022 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, the authoritative source on the health of Pennsylvania’s 86,000 miles of streams and rivers and more than 160,000 acres of lakes. Educators can take advantage of this new resource to develop a field experience or action project as part of a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. A map viewer lets you zoom down to individual stream or river sections and get data on impairment status, pollutant levels, restoration progress, and more.

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Using the Integrated Report

DEP has created two video tutorials of the Integrated Report and mapping application. These videos are designed to show users how to access the many features these digital formats have to offer.

“The Susquehanna River Story: Pennsylvania’s Chronicle”

DEP developed this virtual chronicle of the issues facing the Susquehanna Watershed and, in addressing the decline of smallmouth bass populations beginning in 2005, the water quality challenges the river faces including the impact of agriculture, abandoned mine drainage (AMD), stormwater, and dams. This resource can provide environmental educators with an overview of these challenges facing the mighty Susquehanna and assist in student’s development of a MWEE Action Plan.


Stream Maintenance Guide

Stream Maintenance Guide Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community is a resource for understanding DEP regulations that apply when working in Pennsylvania waterways. The guide uses a helpful “Red/Yellow/Green Light” list to provide a first step in determining what regulatory requirements may apply before a project is begun.

DEP has also developed this video that compliments the Stream Maintenance Guide.

DCNR-State Parks

The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks Watershed Education (WE) Program is an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum that is geared for students in grades 6 through 12. By blending hands-on classroom and field investigations which are modeled on professional research methodologies, students participate in data collection and analysis, community networking and partnerships, and stewardship and service-learning activities.
Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks developed Watershed Education to guide students and teachers in the investigation of local watersheds. WE promotes in-depth, multi-modal learning and understanding of water resources while encouraging students to examine their watershed holistically.


Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program for educators working with students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Through hands-on, interdisciplinary activities, PLT uses the forest as a “window on the world” to help young people learn how to think – not what to think – about complex environmental issues. PLT programming is offered in Pennsylvania! DCNR Forestry is the state sponsor of Project Learning Tree in Pennsylvania.

PA Council of Trout Unlimited and PA Fish and Boat Commission

Made possible by a unique partnership between the PA Council of Trout Unlimited and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Trout In the Classroom (PA TIC) is an interdisciplinary environmental education program in which students (grades 3-12) learn about current and past impacts, management, and protection and enhancement opportunities of Pennsylvania's watersheds and cold-water resources, while raising trout in the classroom. Throughout the year, students are introduced to the importance of watershed conservation efforts, ecosystems, habitats, natural resources, and management strategies to protect and enhance cold-water resources. They are also introduced to recreational opportunities in which they can enjoy those resources and to the cold-water fish species that call those waters home.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs)

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) are learner-centered experiences that actively engage students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on investigation of local environmental issues.
MWEEs meet academic standards through outdoor field investigations into local environmental issues that involve stewardship and civic action.
As with other problem and project-based approaches to learning, MWEEs (pronounced me-wees) provide standards-driven student learning within the context of life-relevant, real-world problems or phenomena. Investigations frequently take place on school grounds or with a field-based education provider. MWEEs culminate in student action projects, which can take many forms, including environmental restoration or protection, everyday choices, community engagement, and civic actions.

MWEE logo

MWEE 101

DEP welcomes all environmental educators throughout Pennsylvania to the online course for the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE). This course is made up of three lessons: Why MWEEs, What Makes a MWEE, and Planning and Evaluating MWEEs. These lessons will introduce the MWEE framework, explore what MWEEs can look like, highlight the MWEE's components, and introduce the tools that support the development and implementation of MWEEs. The majority of MWEE professional development opportunities require completion of this course prior to participation.
After completing all three lessons of this course, instructions will be provided on how to receive a certificate of completion and credits for Pennsylvania (3 Act 48 hours). Depending on state and local guidelines, it may be possible to use the certificate of completion to apply for credits in other states.

Chesapeake Bay Program: Bay Backpack

Bay Backpack is an online resource that supports hands-on environmental learning. By providing educators with information about funding opportunities, field studies, and curriculum guides and lesson plans related to the Chesapeake Bay, Bay Backpack helps educators find the tools they need to give their students MWEEs. Through MWEEs, students of all ages develop a sense of environmental ethics and stewardship that will be essential to the long-term sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay and will serve as the foundation of a lifelong relationship with the environment.

Project WET

Project WET envisions a world in which action-oriented education enables every child to understand and value water, ensuring a sustainable future. Project WET develops and delivers water education resources, organizes special water events, manages a worldwide network of local implementing partners and advocates for the role of water education in solving the world's most pressing water issues.