Waterman Conservation Education Center, located at 403 Hilton Rd. in Apalachin, N.Y., was the setting for a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 8. The organization announced the construction of their new Water Infiltration System Exhibit (WISE), a facility that will demonstrate various techniques for storm water management.
Chris Audette, Waterman’s executive director, shared at the groundbreaking, “The fact is with unpredictable and extreme weather events, the way we manage storm water in the coming years is critically important.”
Audette continued, “I am thrilled to begin construction on this demonstration facility that will model sustainable storm water management strategies that can be adopted by anyone, from homeowners to corporations and municipalities,” adding, “This isn’t just a sorely needed new parking lot, it is a functioning group of integrated green solutions for storm water technologies.”
Project features include water pervious surfaces in the center’s parking lot, along with a series of vegetated retention ponds and wetland areas that will purify runoff before it reaches waterways; Audette noted the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Visitors to the outdoor interactive exhibit can take away knowledge of key techniques to minimize impacts from extreme weather, and how to implement it at their homes or businesses. Winding meadow paths will take visitors beside vegetated bio-retention bays to an engineered wetland that purifies storm water. The interpretive center will also offer displays, such as how rainwater is captured from the roof and used to water plants, clean tools, and then captured and purified by wetlands.
Guest Speaker at the ceremony, Valdi Weiderpass, chair of the Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club, remarked, “Waterman is a perfect place to have this project because they are already known in the community as providing education on environmental matters.”
Also speaking at the event was Delta Project Engineer Michael Haas, who commented, “This all started at least four years ago when I read a Waterman newsletter that they were exploring quotes for repaving the parking lot,” and then further explained that he felt Waterman would be a good candidate for the grant opportunity.
Haas explained that once a series of plans were developed, the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, a funding agency, agreed that it was a favorable conservation education project and was willing to back a percentage of the cost.
Audette and Haas shared that the majority of the project will be complete by the end of October, and that the remainder will carry into the spring.
The Waterman Center’s interpretive building and Hilton Road trails will remain closed through Oct. 25, and will reopen shortly thereafter. All other trail sites are open as usual.
Audette concluded, “We hope everyone will become water WISE,” and explained that the project was made possible via funding by the New York State Green Innovation Grant Program, along with funding and awards from the Mildred Truman Faulkner Foundation, the Community Foundation of South-Central New York and several area businesses.
Audette explained that the total estimated cost of the project is $492,000, of which $330,000 was awarded through the previously mentioned foundations and through business contributions. Of the remainder, Waterman Center is focusing efforts on fundraising for the green roof outdoor classroom, and to pay for the extra construction and labor costs above-and-beyond what the state paid for.
Waterman Center is still seeking funding for various components of the project, including from financial sponsorship, donated materials, and individual donations.
Audette added that Waterman Center is grateful for the planning, design and construction services provided by Delta Engineering and F.P. Kane Construction, and also gave a nod to the Town of Owego and Tioga County Economic Planning and Development for their support.
The Tioga Chamber coordinated a formal groundbreaking ceremony.
For additional information, call Waterman Center at (607) 625-2221. You can also find them on Facebook, or view their website, watermancenter.org.