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Monday
Aug132012

Easy Outing: Water Wonders in North Aurora

Here's a cooling water feature that won't close down come Labor Day. It's eco-friendly and educational, too!

Name: Water Wonders, a 125-foot educational interactive stream that just opened this summer in North Aurora along the Fox River. 

Address: Water Wonders is located just west of North Aurora's Village Hall, which has an address of 25 E. State Street. I parallel parked on State Street, but I bet Village Hall has a lot you could use, too. Water Wonders is located just to the north (walking distance) of North Aurora Island Park, previously featured in the Go West "Great Parks!" series. 

Water Wonders in North Aurora is located right next to the Fox River. Photo by Tara Burghart.

About the Project: The ultimate goal for Water Wonders is that it will be a place where children can splash, wade and climb while learning about water conservation and the native landscape of Illinois. Landscaping and some signage still needs to be installed, but in the meantime, it's still a fun, unique place to cool down and enjoy beautiful views of the Fox River. 

Water Wonders was spearheaded by the North Aurora River District Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to developing the North Aurora riverfront area into a destination that residents and visitors will enjoy.

Chris Faber is a North Aurora village trustee as well as a member of NOARDA. He says the stream does not use any treated city water, but instead uses rainwater that is collected from the roof of Village Hall. If you have a kid interested in engineering or conservation issues, Faber's explanation of how it all works might be particularly good to read aloud when you visit Water Wonders:

"The rain travels through the gutters and when it reaches the ground it flows through a gravel base, which is the first step in the natural filtration of the rain water," Faber says. "It then travels through a drain tunnel that runs from the building to the base of the stream. At the base is a 4,000 gallon cistern that houses the rainwater. When the cistern is full, there is a built in overflow system under the ground that sends the water out into the grassy area beyond the stream where is dissipates naturally. The water is pumped out of the cistern and up to the top of the stream, where it flows naturally over the various waterfalls and back to the bottom, where it filters through the rock base and back into the cistern. The aquatic plants in the stream are part of the ecosystem, as are all of the rocks. They all have roles in filtering the water naturally so that we don't have to use chlorine."

Photo courtesy of the North Aurora River District Alliance.

Water Wonders was built by Aquascape Designs, Faber says, and funded through grants from the Kane County Riverboat Fund and Kane County Forest Preserve, contributions from the Fox Valley Park District and the Village of North Aurora and donations from the North Aurora Mothers Club, as well as funds that NOARDA has raised at its various fundraisers.

"Even though this was man-made, it was done in the most natural was possible," Faber says. "We're really excited about this being able to provide a fun interactive environment and an opportunity for some ecological education at the same time. With school starting back up pretty soon, we're looking forward to the area schools taking a trip to the stream to learn about ecosystems and explore several areas of environmental education."

Our Experience: My 3-year-old daughter and I visited Water Wonders on a steamy day in July. I had her wear her water shoes and brought a chance of clothes -- both wise choices. She joined over kids who were scampering over the rocks and splashing in the stream.  I'm a Nervous Nelly, I admit, so I wished she wouldn't have scampered quite so quickly over those wet rocks -- I had to keep reminding her to take it slow. 

Still, she had an awesome time, as did the other kids I saw enjoying Water Wonders during our visit. This Daily Herald story mentioned how kids were using rocks to build little dams and change the stream's flow. And I think older children and parents will be especially interested to learn how it all works. It's definitely a wonderful, unique addition to the Fox Valley riverfront.

The green mesh will soon be replaced by native landscaping. Photo by Tara Burghart.

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Reader Comments (4)

We went today - another hidden gem - thanks tara!

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMandy Dzikowicz

We went here today, the kids had a blast! But definitely bring towels and extra clothes!

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTina W.

We went here a few weeks ago. The kids had a lot of fun. They started out barefoot, but the rocks hurt their feet (I stepped in too and thought they were a bit painful), so I would recommend water shoes or other shoes they can get wet.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Hi! we went there today since it sounded like a fun place....FYI--there was no water in water wonders, lol! Which was odd since it has rained SO much. Kids still had fun walking on the dry rocks, and there is a nice park on the other side of the street.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

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