Press Release

Contact: Martie Gailes



Leonard LevitanJoe Hurwitz, Jean Wilson (Office Manager for Sen. Hillary Clinton - Alabany Office), Leonard Levitan.
Len Utter speaking with Rod Decker (Representative of Assemblyman Clifford Crouch).

Charter members and friends and the public gathered at the Town of Middletown’s Town Hall to view a scale model of the proposed Water Discovery Center (WDC) to be built in nearby Arkville, NY. The model, created by Ryerson Studios in Kingston, was accompanied by briefings from the architect, Joseph Hurwitz of West Hurley, and the exhibit designer, Leonard Levitan of Shandaken and New York City.

Green technology will play a major role in the 65,000 square foot structure. Built into the gently sloping topography of the WDC’s 43-acre site on County Route 38 in Arkville, 60% of the complex’s exterior walls will be built below ground. Employing geo-thermal heating and cooling and tracking photo voltaic arrays, the building will seek LEED’s platinum certification with the ultimate goal of creating a zero carbon footprint and total self-sufficiency in energy usage.

The building design includes 25,000 square feet of exhibit space covered entirely by a green roof, two 1,000 square foot classrooms set up as wet laboratories, and a 145-seat theater. Meeting space accommodating 240 persons will be available for large meetings and conferences with catering space for private events. Indoor and outdoor galleries will feature water related fine art and sculpture.

Water Discovery Exhibits will tell a story. Beginning with "Water--The Basic Element of Life" exploring the hydrological cycle, the concept of virtual water and the growing scarcity of fresh water to serve a thirsty and hungry planet. Exhibits then move into "The World Water Crisis - Water Under Attack," exploring regional, national and international demands on our fresh water supplies.

Exhibits will then explore "Saving the Planet," exploring successful programs and products offering concrete solutions to the problems besieging the world’s fresh water. The next exhibit area, "Effective Water Management" will highlight the Catskill/Delaware Watershed and the development of one of the world’s most extraordinary municipal water delivery system. Delivering over a billion gallons of pure fresh water to the Greater New York Metropolitan area daily, this replicable model for intelligent water management illustrates the successful reconciliation of often opposing rural versus urban interests.

The final exhibit area will focus on "Conservation and Protection" offering innovative, interactive exhibits designed to educate and inspire a passion for action, protection and conservation of fresh water throughout the world.

Dr. Roberto Lenton, Senior Advisor for International Development at the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction at Columbia University has agreed to serve on the WDC’s Technical Advisory Committee. As former director of the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy and Environment Division at the UN Development Programme, and former Director of the International Water Management Institute managing field programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Dr. Lenton brings a wealth of experience to the WDC technical advisory committee.

Dr. Jack Keller, CEO of Keller Bliesner Engineering, will bring a unique blend of engineering experiences that include teaching, research, extension and consulting in more than 60 countries. Nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in the design, implementation and management of irrigation systems, Dr. Keller is currently involved in projects related to efficient agricultural irrigation, river basin water management and conservation, and developing efficient low-cost irrigation technologies for small farms. Dr. Keller is Professor Emeritus in the Biological and Irrigation Engineering Department at Utah State University and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. David Seckler, an economist specializing in water resources, has agreed to chair the Technical Advisory Committee. Dr. Seckler served as Director of the International Water Management Institute, has taught at Colorado State University and UCLA, Berkeley. At Winrock International he established and directed the Center for Economic Policy Studies, where he acted as senior advisor to developing country governments. Among his numerous overseas engagements, he was Senior Development Policy Advisory for US AID in Indonesia, and Project Specialist for the Ford Foundation. Dr. Seckler is currently serving as Director of Winrock Water, an initiative of Winrock International that provides information services in the field of water resources.

In announcing the formation of the WDC’s Technical Advisory Committee, Mr. Gailes stated that: "As we begin the process of procuring funding for construction of the Center, we are extremely encouraged by the willingness of such renowned and eminent world water experts to lend their assistance in helping o develop and support the mission of the Water Discovery Center. With their help, we will strive to make the Water Discovery Center a nationally recognized exhibit and educational center that seeks to raise public awareness about the many threats to our planet’s fresh water resources and what we can individually and collectively do to manage these threats."

Funding for the Water Discovery Center is already under way, with the expectation of starting construction on the facility within three years.

The Water Discovery Center is incorporated as a not-for-profit institution, with headquarters in Highmount, New York. Its governance operates through a 18-member Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr. Keith Porter, Retired Executive Director of the New York State Water Resource Institute. Literature and more information are available by calling Martie Gailes, administrative manager, at 845-254-5354, or by visiting the Center’s website at

# # #
WDC Home