The country’s first Ultra-Accessible™ aquifer education center opens to the public April 14, 2022 in San Antonio, and The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) is taking a major step forward in the advancement of its longstanding mission to manage, enhance and protect the Edwards Aquifer system. Whereas historically the EAA has taken a state-certified science curriculum and stewardship message into hundreds of classrooms across its eight-county jurisdictional area, the new education outreach center will draw students and general public to a centrally located, state-of-the-art teaching and learning hub designed to appeal to people of all ages, backgrounds, and capabilities. The launch of the EAA’s Education Outreach Center (EAA EOC) will mark the next generation of water education for everyone in the community; a promise the EAA has kept through its chosen location at Morgan’s Wonderland Camp (MWC) on the northern outskirts of San Antonio.
“The greatest value in the education center is the platform it provides us to invite and engage the greater public in our mission through more inclusive and innovative ways than before, says EAA General Manager Roland Ruiz. “The partnership with Morgan’s Wonderland Camp that enabled the creation of this center is indicative of the type of collaboration that will be necessary if we are to further advance understanding of our mission and nurture the stewardship necessary to ensure the Edwards remains a sustainable water resource for generations to come.“
The EAA, in operation since 1996, was created by the Texas Legislature to ensure responsible management and protection of the aquifer in the face of litigation over its unregulated use and potential impacts to federally protected aquatic species in the aquifer’s two major spring systems. Since then, the EAA has successfully implemented a landmark permitting system for regulating withdrawals from the aquifer and is administering a habitat conservation plan for ensuring protection of threatened and endangered species reliant on waters from the aquifer.
Inside the EOC, guests will find a global perspective display, cloud caster, and the Karst Theater complete with realistic stalactites and stalagmites to complete the cavernous space. While EAA staff will operate the Education Outreach Center, it will also be the first center of its kind with remote-controlled mobile robots, aka Aquibots, for EAA scientists to interact with visitors whether they’re in the field or the laboratory. “This truly is a world-class facility, and all eight of the counties that fall within the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s reach will be able to benefit from the education and research that comes from its presence in San Antonio,” says Ruiz.
Additionally, the EOC will feature the only Edwards Aquifer endangered species aquarium exhibit in San Antonio, data from the nearby EAA Field Research Park will be transmitted to the center in real time, and interactive displays for students and the public to immerse themselves in knowledge about one of the most prolific aquifers in the world.
” We’re proud and delighted to be celebrating the opening of a key attraction at MWC as well as the educational partnership that made it happen,” says Gordon Hartman, founder and executive chair of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative. “MWC is definitely a fun place, but now it’s also a learning place, thanks to EAA’s phenomenal, cutting-edge Education Outreach Center.”
The EOC is nestled on the campus of MWC and also borders the 150+ acre EAA Field Research Park. Adjacent to the building are wildlife viewing areas, an archery pavilion, ziplines, and a water-efficient Demonstration Garden complete with a massive award-winning rain catchment system.
The grand opening took place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 and featured local dignitaries, elected officials, and an indigenous group to perform a water blessing ceremony over the center.
About The EAA
Since its formation, the Edwards Aquifer has provided water to municipal, agricultural, industrial, users as well as providing a habitat in the Comal and San Marcos Springs to threatened and endangered species. Today, more than 2.5 million South Central Texans depend on Edwards Aquifer groundwater to sustain their lives and support livelihoods. The Edwards Aquifer Authority’s 25+ years of managing, enhancing, and protecting the Edwards Aquifer is a continued commitment to the community as the agency embarks the next 10 years of its strategic plan, known as the ‘Next Generation and Beyond’, with an emphasis on a legacy of sustainability and credibility. A focal point being a committed to educating the community about this wonderful and precious groundwater resource. For more information, please visit edwardsaquifer.org
About The EOC
The EAA Education Outreach Center (EAA EOC) represents a quantum leap in the EAA’s mission. Free and open to all, the EAA EOC offers a variety of interactive exhibits and displays, including a Karst Theatre, a threatened and endangered species exhibit, a one-of-a-kind Global Perspective Display, a Cloud Caster, a Demonstration Garden, and many more STEM opportunities for visitors. Situated on the EAA Recharge zone, on the grounds of Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, the EAA EOC is rooted in inclusion and an adventure for all. For more information, please visit eaaeoc.org
About Morgan’s Wonderland Camp
Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, part of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative (www.InclusionStartsHere.com), is a 102-acre, $34 million recreational oasis on the northern outskirts of San Antonio that opened in June 2021.It offers year-round, fully-inclusive, summer-camp-type experiences. Cabins can accommodate at one time up to 525 campers of all ages and abilities along with staff for camp sessions of varying durations. Facilities include state-of-the art ziplines that can accommodate guests requiring ventilators and oxygen tanks, and a wheelchair-accessible challenge course (that allows guests in wheelchairs to complete the course independently alongside someone who does not use a wheelchair). Other activities include horseback riding, archery, cycling and swimming, to name just a few. For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderlandCamp.com.