Arizona Project WET History

Four kids looking longingly out at the natural world.


APW has grown through 29 years of excellent water education.

Arizona Project WET’s relationship with the National office has always been strong and remains so today. In 1989, Arizona was the third state to pilot the Project WET program with Montana and Idaho. The success of this multi-state pilot initiative led to a decision by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to fund the development and publication of the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide (1995) and establishment of the Project WET USA network in all 50 states and Washington D.C. State coordinators work with Project WET to advise on and assist in publications now reaching over 50 water education guides and books for children and teachers.

Project WET left Montana State University in June 2005 to form the Project WET Foundation which now includes an international network of 19 countries. As one of the founding state programs, APW developed the Arizona Project WET Handbook and was delivering water education programs prior to the 1995 publication of the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide.

The City of Phoenix was the first to contract with APW to deliver teacher workshops in their service area after publication of the new guide. In 2000, National Project WET offered pass-through grants from Perrier (now Nestle Waters) to incentivize Water Festivals. The Arizona Water Festival Program started then and has grown annually having engaged over 65,000 students, 2500 teachers and 2000 community volunteers so far.

Water festivals helped generate sponsor interest and APW’s teacher professional development program grew and expanded. Teacher Academies today are as valued and respected as they always have been, having continually evolved to meet instructional practice needs and student learning objectives. Over 9000 teachers and educators have participated in APW professional development and they have reported reaching over 500,000 students annually.

APW professional development and direct student outreach was integrated in to the 3rd grade curriculum in the City of Tucson in 2006, initiating an ongoing program.

Through a partnership with Abbott Industries and Foundation, APW programing expanded to Pinal County to create a multigenerational program focused on developing a community conservation ethic in 2008.

The Water Investigations Program, initiated through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, combined teacher professional development, direct student outreach and community involvement in a yearlong study of water for middle and high school students. This evolved into the Aqua STEM Program through which teachers may continue to engage the year-long curriculum, or select any of three STEM units that best meet their curriculum and scheduling needs. 

The School Water Audit Program, a STEM integration program that achieves water savings, was pilot tested in 2009 and the SWAP curriculum was published online in 2011. An adaptation to the SWAP, the Water Scene Investigation Program incentivizes students to bring water audits and aerator installation home.

Arizona Project WET Sponsors