Conservation and Education


Youth Water Academy Fall 2019

Students grades 9-12 in Carrboro and Chapel Hill are invited to apply for the second edition of the Youth Water Academy.

Over 5 sessions, participants will learn from OWASA’s engineers, operators, scientists, field crews and more, about the fascinating process of protecting and delivering the community’s water.

The Academy is free, and 12 spots are open. The deadline for applications is November 1st. Apply now!



Inaugural Water Academy graduates!

In April 2019, seven Carrboro-Chapel Hill high school students graduated from OWASA's first Youth Water Academy! Eleanor Clark, Josh Fink, Camille Lorie, Michelle Pajak, Emily Rajappan, Yuhao Xu and Larry Yuan toured OWASA's water and wastewater treatment plants, learned about water governance, and participated in a hands-on build of a model water system.

Rising Senior Eleanor Clark at Carrboro High said: "I loved learning about what it takes to get water from the lake to my tap every day...and the water industry isn’t just for men. I loved meeting all of the awesome women that love their jobs!"

Over four sessions, participants learned from OWASA's scientists, operators, engineers, distribution and collection crew and more. They participated in a mock Board meeting to make policy decisions and engineered a mini water system using buckets, plastic pipes and pumps - replicating what it takes to get water from a lake to a treatment plant to an elevated tank.

“I didn’t anticipate the students would be so excited; they loved figuring it out and planning a water system. I’m proud to help deliver the community’s water and wastewater system, and I’m excited to help deliver the next Youth Academy,” said Shawn Stanley, OWASA’s Distribution and Collection System Coordinator.

"My dad grew up in India where there was a limited supply of clean water in his village and that sparked my interest in water. My favorite part of the Academy was building a water filtration I want to start a water club at school," said Emily Rajappan, rising Sophomore at Chapel Hill High. Hear more about Emily's experience at the Academy during her interview on the Wonderful Water show with local radio station WCHL!



Conservation of natural resources including water is a strong value in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community and at OWASA. OWASA customers have achieved remarkable water conservation since fiscal year 2001-02: drinking water use in our community has fallen about 26% and returned to levels not seen since the early 1990s, despite the community's growth in the last two decades. (We have 16% more customers than in 2002.)

The benefits of conservation: Conservation practices and investments make our community better prepared for droughts; defer the need for multi-million dollar expansion of OWASA system capacities; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from use of conventional energy sources to pump lake water, drinking water, wastewater and treated wastewater. For information on the relationship between water use, conservation and greenhouse gas emissions, please click here.

By reducing hot water use in homes and business, etc., OWASA customers can also reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from heating water with conventional fuels.

Our Conservation Policy is: To develop, fund, and implement a cost-effective water conservation and demand management program that will meet our community's long-term water supply needs (through 2050) by making the highest and best use of our local water resources and eliminating the need for costly new water supply sources and facilities.


OWASA has adopted a Water Shortage Response Plan in accord with State requirements. 

On January 10, 2013, the OWASA Board adopted a Drought Response Operating Protocol (DROP), which describes OWASA’s procedures and criteria for making water supply and demand management decisions in an extended drought. To read the DROP, please click here. For the Board’s resolution, please click here.

Educating the Community

Taste of Hope Staff

Drought-tolerant, non-invasive trees, shrubs and flowers are a practical alternative to traditional cold-season grasses. When established, drought-tolerant landscaping can add beauty, complement lawn areas and save water and dollars; and benefit the environment by improving wildlife habitat, reducing fertilizer and pesticide use and lessening the need for mowing.

Education, communication and information are a key part of our services to the community.

It is our responsibility not only to provide clean, safe drinking water and to responsibly treat wastewater, but to clearly, courteously and timely inform our customers about our services, policies, plans and actions; proposed actions, policies and plans; and meaningful opportunities to participate in OWASA's decision processes.

We welcome your questions, comments and the opportunity to give you information through our website, by contacting or visiting us, touring our facilities, etc. Please feel free contact us at or 919-968-4421.

We invite you to join our electronic mailing list to receive our news releases simply and quickly by e-mail. To join our mail list, please send an e-mail to

Also, we offer presentations to school classes on request in addition to providing tours of our water and wastewater treatment plants. To schedule a presentation on our community's water resources including where our water comes from, how we treat lake water to make drinking water, how wastewater is treated and recycled and related topics, please contact us at

For the US Environmental Protection Agency's water-related lesson plans and resources for teachers, please click on the following link: Water.

Conservation and Service Affordability