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Center for Water Education - Wonderful World of (Drinking) Water

hemet water center picture
poseidon and mermaid picture
people watch museum show
The Center for Water Education, 2325 Searl Parkway, Hemet, CA 92543 Call: (951)791-0990.  www.centerforwater.org

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 LA), 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, cafĂ©, 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.)