June 20, 2007
Brightwater Environmental Education/Community Center receives state grant
Completion of the Brightwater Environmental Education/Community Center is taking a major step forward thanks to a $675,000 grant from the Washington State Legislature.
The grant was recently awarded to the Friends of Hidden River, a Bothell non-profit group that has partnered with King County and Eastside non-profit NatureVision to develop conceptual plans and secure financial and community support for the regional, state-of-the-art environmental education facility being built as part of the Brightwater Treatment Plant project.
The grant funds will help cover costs associated with final architectural design and sustainable features for the new facility.
"We are extremely excited to hear this news," said Friends of Hidden River president Aaron Feik. "It shows that Washington State is committed to environmental education and the long-term restoration of Puget Sound."
In 2004, King County committed $5.8 million in Brightwater mitigation funds for the design and core construction of the center. The Friends of Hidden River will continue working with community leaders to secure funds to build out and furnish the Center and develop its educational programs.
"We owe it to our children to ensure they are prepared to become environmental stewards for their generation and the generation that follows," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "The work being carried out by Friends of Hidden River will enable area teachers to provide meaningful opportunities in environmental education to tomorrow's leaders."
The Brightwater Environmental Education/Community Center project has generated strong support among state lawmakers, including Representatives Roger Goodman, Al O'Brien, Mark Ericks and Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, who made the funding request a priority during the legislative session.
In addition to two learning laboratories and an exhibit hall with displays on energy independence, environmental resources, and sustainable development, the center will feature meeting facilities for up to 250 people.
The environmental education/community center will also be designed to be certified as a high performance green building, meeting the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Gold standards.
"The center will be a teacher itself. Students and citizens will be able to explore the latest in energy efficient devices and deepen their appreciation for what it takes to keep our environment healthy," said Marie Hartford, Friends of Hidden River project coordinator.
The six Eastside environmental educators who founded The Friends of the Hidden River - Aaron Feik, John Schmied, Marie Hartford, Mike Town, Brian Healy and Mike Reid - have been working to highlight the issues of energy independence and environmental health in the face of our rapidly growing population.
"The issues of energy, environmental education and health, and wastewater flow through every community of America," said Mike Town. "Our goal is to generate enough public and private support to create a model for energy and environment education programs across the nation. This vision is what keeps our team united."
The Brightwater Environmental Education/Community Center is scheduled to open to the public once the treatment plant is completed in 2010.
People enjoy clean water and a healthy environment because of King County's wastewater treatment program. The county's Wastewater Treatment Division protects public health and water quality by serving 17 cities, 17 local sewer utilities and more than 1.4 million residents in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Formerly called Metro, the regional clean-water agency now operated by King County has been preventing water pollution for more than 40 years.
Note to editors and reporters: Visit the WTD Newsroom, a portal to information for the news media about the Wastewater Treatment Division, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks: http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/dnrp/newsroom.aspx