Bringing the Tuolumne home

Posted on February 28, 2012


The Tuolumne River (pronounced: too ALL um me) flows near the Bay Area of California. Like many other waterways around the world, it’s under pressure.

Three consecutive record-dry winters have strained the Tuolumne River, which provides water to more than 2.4 million people. Close proximity to a large population is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to involve people in conservation efforts.

Most of us would agree that protecting rivers is a good thing. But it’s sometimes hard to see how our daily decisions affect the waterways around us.

The Tuolumne River Trust (TRT)  helps connect the dots for students through its program, That’s the Tuolumne in my Tap. The program name alone is brilliant — right away, it brings the river home.

More than 10,000 4th and 5th grade students participated in "That's the Tuolumne in my Tap" last year.

The program inspired more than 125 students to enter an essay contest about protecting the Tuolumne. Some of my favorite tips from the kids include:

  • “Think about it, those five extra minutes in the shower could take away an innocent animal’s life. Cutting down on small things such as taking shorter showers, or turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, could make a big impact.” – Matthew Virzi
  • “We can water our plants by collecting rain water in buckets or bottles to use instead of using water from the faucet.” – Crystal Xu
  • “At home, we can conserve water by not wasting food because it takes gallons of water to make our food.” – Paige Leong
  • “When you wash your dishes, you can fill the sink up totally with water and give the dishes a bath. This is better than opening up the tap to full blast.” – Ben Liao
  • “Kids in schools can  make signs that remind people to conserve water and pass them to the whole community. Together, we can make a difference.” – Karen Yen

The Tellabs Foundation supported That’s the Tuolumne in my Tap as part of our commitment to help protect the environment. This year the TRT will continue reach out to Bay Area students, and will add field trips and water-conserving school garden projects.

For more information about the program, contact Karen Gardner at