Editor’s note of July 9, 2017: This story about Water Wonders originally ran in 2012, and while it is a great, unique (and free) riverfront attraction, in recent years, readers had told me they had visited and been turned off by a goose poop problem. But I was just notified that the village has hired a company to clean Water Wonders out completely, as well as a person with a dog who comes regularly to chase the geese out of the area. Water Wonders is again clean and ready for playdates!
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 opened in the summer of 2012 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.
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. It’s 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.”
Water Wonders was built by Aquascape Designs, 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.”
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.