The Center for Water
Education, 2325 Searl Parkway, Hemet, CA 92543 Call: (951)791-0990.
Center for Water
Education - Wonderful World of (Drinking) Water (venue is closed)
by Debbie Stock
Hemet, Calif.—You don't have to be a child
to appreciate the life-giving properties of water. But with the eyes of a child
you can wander through a new education center that explores water resources and
their importance to humans. The Center for Water Education takes people young
and old on a journey through California's water systems. From the aqueducts that
transport water to large metropolitan regions, to the filtering and cleaning of
water supplies servicing millions of Californians daily, visitors can explore
where water comes from, how it is used and what methods are employed to provide
enough of it for everyone's needs.
The Water Planet is a collage off
sea sculptures that rises high
above as guests enter the the museum's reception area. Famous quotes about water
from philosophers appear on the walls while overhead, a sea turtle, beautiful
blonde mermaids and mythical Greek god of the ocean,
Poseidon, who carries a three-pronged fish
spear, represent the miracle of
water, the single most important element to humans and a favorite metaphor for
the life-giving force, itself.
Not only is the new center (funded in part
by a $16 million grant from the Metropolitan Water District)
filled with colorful exhibits to entertain
and educate, the building and campus were designed with effective architecture
that includes a myriad of sustainable
systems. Located in
the semiarid desert of Hemet, Calif., near Diamond Valley Lake, the museum leads
the way for energy efficiency and conservation, thanks to the expertise and
partnership of an award-winning team, Michael B. Lehrer, FAIA (Lehrer Architects
and Mark S. Gangi, AIA (Gangi Architects). It boasts one of the largest institutional rooftop photovoltaic installations in the
world (549 kilowatts of power), radiant heating and cooling, and thousands of
feet of clear, argon-filled, east-facing glass. Through much effort and
innovation, the new center and adjoining facilities recently qualified as a Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold project. The campus includes
administrative offices, café, gift shop, laboratories, auditoria, classrooms,
support facilities, and outdoor public spaces.
The Center for Water Education and
adjoining facilities are the result of the Diamond
Valley Lake Reservoir, completed in 1999 by the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California, as the largest earthworks project ever to be constructed.
During the massive dig to create a reservoir, significant fossils were
unearthed. Desperately needing a new home, The Center for Water Education
Foundation and the Western Center Community Foundation requested two facilities
resulting in construction and completion of Center for Water Education and
Western Center for Archeology and Paleontology. A 72000 sq. ft. museum campus
and large outdoor connecting terrace serves the public and educational
institutions with two museums a library, laboratory and depository for
rare materials such as fossils.
The art-laden water center promotes an awareness and understanding of the
importance of water through exhibits prepared by some of the finest talents such
as former Disney artists and producers. Water Celebration, Timeline, Liquid
Lifeline Timeline, Wonders of Water-The Reservoir, Odyssey of Water, Challenges
of Water and Discovery Place are areas guests can explore with many videos,
visual enhancements and hands-on learning opportunities.
Exhibits such as "The Process of
Photosynthesis" include colorful artwork and large silver scopes that stand
about 3 feet tall, just the perfect height for youngsters to peer into and
examine a plant close up. Another exhibit is a sculptural piece demonstrating
the effects of trash in waterways. Suspended in the air, it includes a large,
life-like fish that wears a gas mask, swimming next to a huge group of corroded
items such as a red kitchen chair, chemical-filled barrel and gobs of
unrecognizable cords and metal tubes that you'll find in most river clean-ups.
There are many displays with knobs, handles and visual effects to engage the
public in a playful manner.
For the kid in us all, it's never too
early or too late to learn the importance of water. The Center for Water
Education is a fun place that offers exploration and insight into the world's
water systems, plus a reminder that we humans can take an active role as
guardians for this precious commodity.
Did you know? In 1910, 2,377,821
Californians consumed 20 gallons of this precious
liquid per person each day. In 1990, 29,760,021
Californians consumed 230 gallons each and every day.
By the year 2000 Californians
consumed 30 gallons less per day, thanks to awareness, conservation
efforts and energy-efficient products. (You can
learn more at www.centerforwater.org.)