Community | Chino Basin Water Conservation District
By: Jamie Durante
Educating the public about water conservation could not come at a more appropriate time considering California’s worsening drought. That’s why when we stepped into Chino Basin Water Conservation District in Montclair, we couldn’t believe we had never heard of this interactive center’s existence beforehand.
The Chino Basin Water Conservation District works hard to protect the Chino Groundwater Basin, which serves many cities in San Bernardino County like Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland, as well as unincorporated areas. However, their organization also provides many other types of services and activities that schools, families, business owners and home owners can all utilize free of charge. When we first pulled up to the Chino Basin Water Conservation District, we instantly noticed the beautiful, California-native plants that surrounded the location, as well as the oversized park in the same parking lot.
Walking into the main entrance, our eyes were instantly intrigued by the brightly renovated lobby that has been utilized as an educational exhibit for children and adults. The colorful exhibits range from information about water in California and the Chino Groundwater Basin to fun, interactive activities about how everyone can make a difference by conserving water.
Just off the lobby, we next checked out the huge Board Room that doubles as a classroom for the location’s various landscaping workshops. Also located within the interactive lobby was the Landscape Design Room. This colorful, book-lined room has various titles that will help you design and plan your very own drought-resistant landscape design. Here, water conservation specialists can help you by consulting on this process, which is all free of charge.
Although it was a hot day, we knew the Wilderness Park and Water Wise Demonstration Garden were not something we wanted to miss, which meant it was time to wander outdoors. One might expect drought-resistant landscaping to be dull, dry and boring. However, dry or dull were completely opposite of this living, breathing wilderness garden. Big, shady trees created a dramatic backdrop, while colorful wild flowers, circulating water fountains and succulents lined every walkway. With birds singing all around us, we instantly felt at peace. Suddenly we were transformed from Montclair to a manicured botanic garden.
We walked further into the Wilderness Park, where we met some desert tortoises, who were all fast asleep in the shade. We also learned about the various trees, in which the park has over 40 varieties. A majority of the trees use low amounts of water, and they’re able to adapt to harsh, dry conditions. For example, the palo verde tree sheds its yellowish leaves when conditions dry out, and its green trunk is then able to perform photosynthesis in absence of its leaves. Aside from being naturally beautiful, these two outdoor exhibits are used to help people envision and plan their personal or business landscape.
Walking through the Water Wise Educational Garden, we learned so much about landscaping from the displays of pocket gardens to a turf demonstration, where different grass samples were on display, each with information regarding its requirements. There is also a children’s garden, compost demonstration area, and they even have a picturesque outdoor theater.
Another great feature at the opposite end of the garden is the Education Building. Making our way over, we got to say “hello” to Sam, a sulcata tortoise who was calmly resting in the shade. The Education Building has a brightly colored classroom that is dedicated to all things water conservation and of course, fun! Schools utilize this room year-round for field trips, and there are various lessons and activities available depending upon what is relevant based upon the students’ current curriculum.
Making our way back around to the front of the building again, we learned that even the parking lot is a demonstration on how we can utilize rainwater. Some of the pavement is permeable, meaning that instead of rainwater washing down to the sewer, it can soak back into the ground to be utilized again. It’s clear at Chino Basin Water Conservation District that every operation within and about its walls has a bigger picture in mind, and that is preserving water for our communities for years and years to come.
We should thank our friends over at Chino Basin Water Conservation District, and also pay them a visit, because you, your students and your family will all appreciate this inclusive, informative and breathtaking grounds. If you appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, you will also find the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont to be an enlightening destination.
The Chino Basin Water Conservation District is located at 4594 San Bernardino Street in Montclair. For more information and hours, visit them at www.cbwcd.org or call (909) 626-2711.