Governor Cooper to help launch state environmental initiatives for Earth Month State officials will launch two major environmental initiatives on April 26

Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and the head of his environmental agency will celebrate Earth Month with the launch of a new high school curriculum aimed at teaching North Carolina school children about air quality.

The launch of the “It’s Our Air” high school curriculum is one of two major initiatives the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is rolling out on April 26 as part of the month-long emphasis on environmental education, protection and sustainability inspired by Earth Day (April 22). After the high school curriculum is unveiled in Raleigh, state environmental officials will travel to Oxford to launch a nationally recognized initiative to help North Carolina cities and towns prepare for crucial water and wastewater infrastructure needs.

“These initiatives highlight three of my priorities – protecting our natural resources, improving our efforts of educating and involving the next generation and bolstering our state’s economic well-being,” said Michael S. Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “‘It’s Our Air’ promotes improvements through innovative curriculum and student engagement, supporting the next generation’s desire to effectively engage in the preservation of our planet’s most valuable resources. The agency’s innovative water and wastewater infrastructure plan will greatly assist our communities plan for what is certainly one of the greatest economic and environmental challenges cities and towns across North Carolina are facing.”

It’s Our Air

From 9-11 a.m. April 26, staff in the state’s Division of Air Quality will announce the start of their “It’s Our Air!” high school curriculum in a ceremony in the William G. Ross Jr. Environmental Conference Center on the fourth floor of the Nature Research Center, 121 West Jones St., Raleigh. Cooper, DEQ Secretary Michael Regan and state Division of Air Quality Director Michael Abraczinskas will lead the “It’s Our Air” launch.

“It's Our Air” is a free curriculum that includes a series of engaging activities and videos focused on air quality for earth and environmental science students in North Carolina high schools. It will help students develop a better understanding of the science and technology used to explain, monitor, predict and protect air quality.

The event will include a brief update on the state of the air in North Carolina, demonstrate key elements of the “It's Our Air” curriculum and recognize the people who helped develop the curriculum and meteorologists. To learn more about the curriculum or the event, visit: www.itsourair.org.

Statewide Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Master Plan

Then at 1:30 p.m. April 26, Regan and his staff in the state Division of Water Infrastructure will be in Oxford for the roll out of the state’s plan for how cities and towns can better prepare for their water and wastewater utility needs. “North Carolina’s Statewide Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Master Plan: The Road to Viability” tackles the problem many cities and towns are facing today, how to effectively replace and repair aging water infrastructure. During the next 20 years, cost estimates for water system needs statewide climb to as much as $15 billion and wastewater needs could reach as much as $11 billion.

“The state’s role is to foster the long-term viability of individual water and wastewater utilities by providing access not only to capital funds but also to resources that help utilities address organizational and financial management challenges that may be contributing to physical infrastructure limitations,” the plan’s summary states.

The plan is available online at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wi/master-plan. 

The event will be at the Oxford Wastewater Treatment Plant, 1649 New Commerce Drive. In case of rain or severe weather, the event will be held at the Oxford City Hall Auditorium, 300 Williamsboro St.

Organizers decided to hold the rollout of the master plan in Oxford because the town has properly approached the challenges of aging wastewater infrastructure and has embraced the state’s master plan to help the town prepare for its future water and wastewater needs.

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