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This program is just one example of Extension programming that has positively impacted drinking water quality. Please check back periodically for other highlighted programs.

Educating Real Estate Professionals: Changing Development Practices and Individual Behaviors

The self-supporting “Educating Real Estate Professionals” program has created a strong niche for Washington State University (WSU) Cooperative Extension external link in providing effective water resource education in areas experiencing development pressures and helping to maintain or improve water quality.

Situation

Development practices and landscape modification play significant roles in determining the long-term health of aquatic systems and the quality of our drinking water. Developers and real estate professionals with a background in water resource issues can make environmentally suitable decisions regarding development practices, as well as educate their clientele about land stewardship and water quality.

Actions

classroomDevelopment practices and landscape modification play significant roles in determining the long-term health of aquatic systems and the quality of our drinking water. Developers and real estate professionals with a background in water resource issues can make environmentally suitable decisions regarding development practices, as well as educate their clientele about land stewardship and water quality. To educate this priority audience a water resource education program was established at Washington State University (WSU) Cooperative Extension to provide professional development for developers and real estate professionals in the South Puget Sound region. The program is a series of individual courses that provides participants with certified clock hours they can use toward their biennial professional license certification. The seven stand-alone courses cover the science, policy and regulation of the following water resource related issues:

* Development in shoreline areas
* Onsite sewage systems
* Wells and groundwater
* Forestry
* Landscaping
* Streams and salmon
* Wetlands
* Low-impact development techniques

Impacts

Since 1998, more than 900 real estate professionals have participated in the 34 programs offered in the South Puget Sound region. Follow-up evaluations show that over 90% of the program participants regularly share the information they learned with clientele and colleagues. Program coordinator Robert Simmons frequently receives letters and emails describing situations where the courses improved a participant’s ability to assist clients in protecting water resources. For instance, one participant wrote that he now regularly advises his clients who purchase a home served by a well on how to go about testing their well water and why. There have also been many cases where development practices changed as a result of what was learned in the courses. This self-supporting program has created a strong niche for WSU Cooperative Extension in providing effective water resource education in areas experiencing development pressures and helping to maintain or improve water quality.

outdoor demonstration for students

For more information on this project, contact Robert Simmons.

Please visit the NIFA Drinking Water and Human Health theme page for more information.