Water Discovery Center model unveiled; organizers hope to start building in three years

Charter members and friends and the public gathered at the Town of Middletown’s Town Hall to view a scale model of the proposed Water Discovery Center (WDC) to be built in Arkville. The model, created by Ryerson Studios in Kingston, was accompanied by briefings from the architect, Joseph Hurwitz of West Hurley, and the exhibit designer, Leonard Levitan of Shandaken and New York City.
Green technology will play a major role in the 65,000-square-foot structure.  Built into the gently sloping topography of the WDC’s 43-acre site on county Route 38 in Arkville, 60 percent of the complex’s exterior walls will be built below ground.  Employing geo-thermal heating and cooling and tracking photo-voltaic arrays, the building will seek LEED’s platinum certification with the ultimate goal of creating a zero carbon footprint and total self-sufficiency in energy usage.
The building design includes 25,000 square feet of exhibit space covered entirely by a green roof, two 1,000-square-foot classrooms set up as wet laboratories, and a 145-seat theater.  Meeting space accommodating 240 persons will be available for large meetings and conferences with catering space for private events.  Indoor and outdoor galleries will feature water related fine art and sculpture.
Water Discovery Exhibits will tell a story. Beginning with “Water—The Basic Element of Life” exploring the hydrological cycle, the concept of virtual water and the growing scarcity of fresh water to serve a thirsty and hungry planet. 
Exhibits will then explore “Saving the Planet,” exploring successful programs and products offering concrete solutions to the problems besieging the world’s fresh water.  The next exhibit area, “Effective Water Management” will highlight the Catskill/Delaware Watershed and the development of one of the world’s most extraordinary municipal water delivery system. 
The final exhibit area will focus on “Conservation and Protection,” offering innovative, interactive exhibits designed to educate and inspire a passion for action, protection and conservation of fresh water throughout the world.
As plans take shape, the board of trustees has sought to enlist support of world-renowned water experts to provide technical advice.  Gary Gailes, president of the board, announced at Saturday’s event that the formation of a Technical Advisory Committee has met with great success.  To date, three highly regarded world water experts have agreed to assist.
Dr. Roberto Lenton, senior advisor for international development at the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction at Columbia University has agreed to serve on the WDC’s Technical Advisory Committee.  As former director of the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy and Environment Division at the UN Development Programme, and former Director of the International Water Management Institute managing field programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Dr. Lenton brings a wealth of experience to the WDC technical advisory committee.
Dr. Jack Keller, CEO of Keller Bliesner Engineering, will bring a unique blend of engineering experiences that include teaching, research, extension and consulting in more than 60 countries.  Nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in the design, implementation and management of irrigation systems, Dr. Keller is currently involved in projects related to efficient agricultural irrigation, river basin water management and conservation, and developing efficient low-cost irrigation technologies for small farms.  
Dr. David Seckler, an economist specializing in water resources, has agreed to chair the Technical Advisory Committee.  Dr. Seckler served as director of the International Water Management Institute, has taught at Colorado State University and UCLA, Berkeley.  At Winrock International he established and directed the Center for Economic Policy Studies, where he acted as senior advisor to developing country governments.
Funding for the Water Discovery Center is already under way, with the expectation of starting construction on the facility within three years.
Literature and more information are available by calling Martie Gailes, administrative manager, at 254-5354, or by visiting the Center’s website at www.waterdiscoverycenter.org.