President’s Message—H2O Learning Center Dedication
The H20 Learning Center at the Orange County Water District (District) dedication was a wonderful celebration and culmination of many years of dreams and collaboration. The nearly 150 attendees included members of our Board of Directors and Visitor Center Ad Hoc Committee, OCWD staff, designers, water agency representatives, and more than a dozen local, state and national legislative envoys, many of whom presented resolutions and commendations.
I had the pleasure of welcoming everyone and introducing Sean Fitzgerald, Discovery Cube’s vice president of sales and strategic development, who announced the design team from Discovery Cube, Cinnabar Design Build, New Water Resources, Global Visions and Associates, LR-LA, Shaughn and John Photography, PDC Interior Designs, and UCView, plus several key members of the OCWD staff. He also acknowledged the many more behind the scenes. I marvel at everyone’s ideas, constancy and tenacity to complete such an engaging, informative and entertaining project.
The Center encompasses an extensive interactive exhibit and additional educational aspects at OCWD, including tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), and the Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory, Water 101 classes, workshops, field trips, public board and committee meetings, and vocational training and certification classes for water professionals.
The highlight of the dedication event was the grand opening of the interactive museum-like exhibit within a 1,600 square foot hallway, which is open to the public. It is designed to teach visitors-- from the most accomplished water professionals, to young students and visitors who don’t know much about water—about Orange County’s water management process and how OCWD supplies 75 percent of the water supply for north and central Orange County. It can be experienced either as a self-tour or as part of an OCWD guided tour.
It was such an honor to accept proclamations from the offices of Congressman Alan Lowenthal, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman Edward Royce, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Congresswoman Mimi Walters, Senator Patricia Bates, Senator Bob Huff, Senator John Moorlach, Assemblyman Travis Allen, Assemblywoman Young Kim, and Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner. All these proclamations are lovely and greatly appreciated.
I was proud to present OCWD Director Phil Anthony and former Director Kay Barr as the driving force for creating a visitor center here at OCWD. They had an early commitment to exchanging ideas, best practices, challenges and solutions, which has resulted in better membrane technologies, better water production efficiencies, and better groundwater management practices that are now part of California’s groundwater sustainability act and which are being emulated in other parts of the world. This open exchange and access have earned OCWD great respect in the water industry and have been drawing professionals to the District from around the globe.
Recognizing the demand and need to create an educational center to continue to teach and collaborate with stakeholders, the District invested in bringing the H20 Learning Center at OCWD to life. OCWD is excited to dedicate and open up this exhibit to the community. It hopes to bring visitors of all ages together to continue learning about the important world of water. Through this program it also hopes to inspire today’s middle school and high school students to become engineers, scientists, inventors, and leaders of tomorrow.