Our Water, Our World

Our Water, Our World Program

Our Water, Our World (OWOW) is an award-winning partnership between city- and county-based water pollution prevention agencies and garden centers and hardware stores that sell pest control products. Initiated in 1998, the program focuses on less-toxic, eco-friendly products and techniques as many common pesticides are harmful to sensitive species and ecosystems when they reach local creeks, bays, and the ocean.

From a stormwater management perspective, Our Water, Our World is an excellent opportunity and cost-efficient way to educate the public and reduce toxicity in waterways from current use pesticides.

Several municipalities utilize OWOW to meet permit requirements, including the Bay Area Municipal Regional Permit, the Central Valley Region-wide MS4 Permit, and the Phase II – Small MS4 General Permit.

Program Elements

Our Water, Our World directly reaches consumers at the point of sale and consists of several program elements, all of which are integral to the effectiveness of the program.

In-Store Educational Materials

In the store, consumers are directed to less-toxic products and techniques through a variety of ways:

  • Fact sheets are provided to educate the public on a wide range of pest management topics
  • Shelf tags and display materials guide customers to less-toxic products
  • Additional educational resources are provided, such as product lists and information about active ingredients in pest management products
  • Many of the educational outreach materials provided in-store are being updated to include QR codes, linking directly to the OWOW website

Integrated Pest Management Advocates

A critical component of the program, IPM Advocates are individuals who have been specifically trained on how to engage with retailers and the public. Qualified IPM Advocates provide in-store presentations and help for customers about pest management methods that are healthier for people and the environment. IPM Advocates also provide training for store employees. On an annual basis, all Qualified IPM Advocates also receive continuing education and training.

Trade Shows

Our Water, Our World exhibits annually at trade shows to educate buyers on less toxic products. Participation in these events in a critical step to ensure stores carry less toxic products.

How To Implement the Program in Your Community

Step 1: Become a CASQA Member

To participate in the Our Water, Our World program, you must first be a CASQA member. If you are not yet a CASQA member, click here to join.

Step 2: Subscribe to Our Water, Our World (fee-based)

By subscribing to the program, you collectively support the basic and central services necessary to operate and maintain Our Water, Our World. The subscription fee is determined annually and is dependent upon the number of organizations who subscribe and the needs for the coming year (in general, the more participants, the lower the subscription fee).

CASQA provides these services, including the development of the in-store education materials (e.g., less-toxic product lists, label files, and active ingredient lists); creation and updates of outreach materials, operation and updates to the OWOW website, participation in trade shows, preparation of an annual report, fulfillment of outreach materials orders, and program management.

2022 Subscription Fees:

  • Phase I Member
    • Individual Subscription: $2,585
    • Group Subscription: $5,085
  • Phase II Member
    • Individual Subscription: $1,085
    • Group Subscription: $2,085
  1. Click here to subscribe to Our Water, Our World
  2. Upon subscribing you will receive a purchase confirmation email with additional information; be sure to check any spam/junk mail folders:
    1. To best support your organization, please fill out the requested subscriber's information at the form link provided in the email.
    2. Contact information for the IPM Advocates is provided in the email.
    3. If you are a subscriber and need contact information for the IPM Advocates, or in-store educational materials, contact CASQA@casqa.org.

Step 3: Implement the Program Locally

After subscribing to the Our Water, Our World program, municipalities individually fund implementation at the local level. Local implementation starts with working with an IPM Advocate to develop a program that fits the needs of the community. 

Local implementation includes the following:

  • Contracting with an IPM Advocate
  • Purchasing in-store educational materials

As noted in Step 2 above, Qualified IPM Advocate contact information is provided after municipalities subscribe to Our Water, Our World. For in-store educational materials you can coordinate with your IPM Advocate or contact CASQA@casqa.org.

Awards

2003 - Friends of the San Francisco Estuary

2005 - American Public Works Association (APWA)

2005 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

2005 - Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR)

2014 - California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)

Program Effectiveness

The effectiveness of the Our Water, Our World Program has been assessed periodically in many ways since the Program’s inception in 1998. A compilation of excerpts of the effectiveness assessment information is provided here. Effectiveness assessment information has been reported in 12 of the Program’s 23 years of operation. Both outputs and outcomes are reported. The excerpts include both program-wide and local permittee assessments.

Partners

In addition to the municipalities implementing the program throughout the state, we work in partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service, the UC Statewide IPM Program, and Master Gardeners in the counties we serve.

History of the Program

Our Water, Our World started as a pilot project in 1998, in just a handful of stores, initiated by the Contra Costa County Sanitation District, the City of Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant, and the Marin Countywide Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program.  

The program quickly grew and was administered by the former Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association from 1999 – 2021. During that time, over 130 agencies in 16 counties implemented the program, working in approximately 239 stores.

Starting in January 2022, the program was transferred to CASQA, with the goal of providing statewide access to this important and successful outreach program.