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Fremont student honored with President’s Environmental Youth Award

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Michele Huitric (

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that 13-year-old Shreya Ramachandran, of Fremont, Calif., will receive the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for her study of grey water use in water conservation. This national award is presented each year to K-12 students who demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and problem-solving skills needed to address environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

Shreya, a student at Stratford School in Fremont, started her water conservation project in 2014. Having seen firsthand the effects of drought in California and in India, Shreya began researching ways to conserve and reuse water.

Shreya found that many commercial laundry detergents include chemicals that can be detrimental to soil, plants, and aquatic life. To address this, she conducted tests to see if grey water from soap nuts—a natural laundry detergent derived from the Indian soap berry—could be used as irrigation water without harming the environment. She conducted multiple tests, comparing grass that had been exposed to regular water, soap-nut grey water, organic and non-organic detergent grey water. She found that soap nut grey water was beneficial to plant growth and cost less than an organic detergent. 

“Although I started this project to find a solution to California's drought, doing it gave me exposure to the many water problems throughout the world and an eye-opening view of how devastating droughts can really be and how it affects people's lives,” said Shreya. “I learned that I don't have to be an adult to initiate change, and I can make a real impact on my community. I hope my project will help people across the globe conserve water.” 

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation's youth.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit:

For details on the new PEYA winners, visit: