Update 9/16: The Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee approved the request of the Economic Development Board to contribute $50,000 toward the water education display. The funds come from the 205 account, which as of September holds just over one million in funds. The contribution was made as a special request to contribute toward the project and is not included in the 2019 budget.
Kids will have a chance to get their hands wet when a special water education exhibit is installed inside the future Wildwood Zoo Welcome Center.
Of the kind typically found in children’s museums, the water exhibit will be a significant part of the Welcome Center. It is viewed by organizers as an exciting extra feature to the overall project that will contribute to the Wildwood Zoo’s status as the #1 tourist attraction in Marshfield.
With extra space available inside the Welcome Center, a water exhibit was decided as a great opportunity to teach kids about the water cycle as well as educate them on where the City’s water comes from – and where it goes.
“We have a misconception that the water we drink is from thousands of years ago or comes down from Canada,” said Sam Warp Jr., Wastewater Superintendent. “That’s not true. The water we drink is what falls down from rain around here, and then gets collected and pumped to homes.”
“We need to protect our groundwater, and that’s really the core issue of why we’re doing this,” he added. “If we do that, we’ll protect the streams and the lakes and the rivers.”
Designed by Boss Display, the table will measure a little over 17 feet and 8 feet at its widest, and is primarily aimed toward kids. It will be custom designed to feature recognizable parts of Marshfield like the Round Barn, water tower, and the zoo itself.
Water will trickle down from the higher point and meander in a stream through the landmarks before ending up at what will resemble the City’s wastewater plant. “The whole thing is all going to be self contained,” said Warp. “When the water gets down to the end, will be filtered and sent back to the top to come back down again.”
Three-dimensional clouds and a sun will hang over the exhibit. Another section will show the concept of evaporation. The sides will be decorated with cattails. Because of the uniqueness of the concept, Boss Display will have to invent ways of making some of the ideas a reality.
Around twenty kids will be able to take a spot around the table and have fun with the interactive elements. Details have yet to firmed up, but kids may be able to spray the zoo animals, push a button to make it rain, and tip sandhill cranes.
“They’ll come away wet, no doubt about it,” said Warp.
The City has not contributed toward the $200,000 cost of the water exhibit, but is matching half the $500,000 cost of the cougar exhibit and Welcome Center with ADA compliant restrooms. Private fundraising for the Cougar Exhibit/Welcome Center is expected to be completed in September with a ribbon cutting projected for a year later, in 2019.
Fundraising is half completed for both the water exhibit and the center. Marshfield Utility Commission and Wastewater Utility both pledged $50,000 toward the water exhibit, which will take 8-10 months to complete. However much is raised through private donations will determine which features can be included.