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The development of a watershed and water quality education center in south Orange County took another step forward today as the $1.8 million project was partially sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District's Community Partnering Program.
Orange County Supervisor Tom Wilson (5th Dist.) joined Laguna Niguel Mayor Joe Brown and Metropolitan Director John V. Foley in presenting a $3,000 Community Partnering Program check to Jerry McCloskey, president of the Niguel Botanical Preserve, for the South Coast Watershed Environmental Education Center.
"The partnership celebrated today between Metropolitan, the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Niguel Botanical Preserve is an example of the kind of joint ventures we need to foster between regional and local governments," Wilson said at presentation ceremonies at Crown Valley Community Park, where the center will be located.
"I have great hopes that this partnership will expand recognition of the complexity of providing water to this region as well as for the essential role it plays in our lives," Wilson said.
"We're delighted with Metropolitan's contribution to what we know will be a significant environmental and educational resource in south Orange County," said Mayor Brown, who was joined at the event by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Whipple and Council members Mimi Walters and Linda Lindholm.
Foley said Metropolitan's support of the center will help the institution with the development of an environmentally "smart" facility that will educate the public about the opportunities and benefits of using sustainable principles in the design and retrofit of homes and businesses.
"It also will offer interpretive, research and demonstration opportunities on water conservation, water quality and watershed stewardship that are applicable not only here in Orange County, but throughout Southern California," said Foley, who represents MWDOC on Metropolitan's board of directors.
"Once completed, this facility will provide visitors with an idea of where building construction, landscaping and irrigation is headed -- sustainable water and energy systems, new insulation products, organic gardening, composting, biological pest control and permeable exterior pavement -- all of which support environmental water quality awareness and conservation of resources," Foley added.
With Metropolitan's sponsorship, McCloskey said the preserve has received pledges totaling $50,000 for the center, which is expected to open in 2005. The center will be located next to the 18-acre Niguel Botanical Preserve, which offers hands-on examples of drought tolerant, water-wise planting materials and methods.
"Water quality issues are going to be a major environmental issue in coming decades. This center will provide valuable demonstrations and educate the community regarding these issues," McCloskey said.
This year, Metropolitan will distribute more than $600,000 in Community Partnering Program sponsorships and in-kind services to programs that demonstrate a value-added benefit to Metropolitan and its 26 member public agencies, serving 17 million water consumers in six Southland counties.
For more information about Metropolitan's programs, visit the district's Web site, mwdh2o.com.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 17 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.