Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) is a regional groundwater management agency that regulates the use of the Edwards aquifer through integrity, transparency, and respect for the resource and the people that use it. In 2019, EAA announced a partnership with ultra-accessible™ Morgan’s Wonderland Camp (MWC), a 102-acre recreational oasis on the northern outskirts of San Antonio that offers a summer camp-type experience to those with and without special needs. This partnership brings together children and youth of all abilities and teaches them about one of the most prolific aquifers in the world – the Edwards Aquifer. The EAA Education Outreach Center (EOC) at MWC opened its doors in April 2022, featuring unique learning experiences that broaden imaginations through participation in innovative STEM opportunities with an inclusive mindset.
Project Description & History
One of these unique learning experiences is the EOC’s demonstration garden and rainwater harvesting system. The EAA EOC Native Plant Demonstration Garden was created to introduce concepts of water conservation through the use of colorful native plants that are drought tolerant. The demonstration garden relies solely on water that has been collected from the EOC’s rainwater harvesting system, and uses a drip irrigation system to ensure the garden receives adequate water. This introduces visitors to various water conservation methods that they can implement in their backyards. By using these methods, the garden is able to conserve more water. This system also helps to save money, reducing the cost associated with continuously watering the plants in the demonstration garden with conventional methods.
EAA collaborated with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) to identify the best drought-tolerant, native plants and trees to plant in the garden. The EOC is free and open to the public inviting thousands of students and their families to learn more about the benefits of native plants and the importance of water conservation.
Texas is prone to drought, and water conservation is now more important than ever as we face dwindling water resources. By educating the public on at-home water conservation such as rain water collection and planting native plants, this demonstration garden leads by example, showing others how to implement a water-friendly garden. Involving the community in the protection of the Edwards Aquifer is a high-priority environmental issue. EAA aims to educate the community that rather than relying on importing water, San Antonio has ready access to this potable water through the aquifer. However, the aquifer is threatened by pollution and over-development, and these issues cannot be mitigated without the aid of the public. Because of this, the EOC makes significant contributions to improving the environment by educating the community that relies on water from the Edwards Aquifer. EOC presentations are targeted to specific audiences based on age and grade level and always include practical steps and calls to action that encourage visitors to do their part in protecting the Edwards Aquifer.