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June 3, 2014 > Colorful, quirky conservation

Colorful, quirky conservation

Submitted By Bruce Roberts

East Bay hills are shamrock green. Bulbs planted in the fall are now daffodils and tulips gracing Bay Area gardens. Now is the time when gardeners everywhere prowl nurseries, searching for just the right bloom to complete their outside color palette.

But wait! California is in a drought. Tri-Cities residents have been told to conserve water, and every other city in the state is probably not far behind. Buy flowers? Plant the garden? Why? Those plants will have to be watered!

If thoughts of conserving that precious water that everyone takes for granted are getting people down, then they need to take a walk. The Alameda Creek Trail runs from the mouth of Niles Canyon all the way to the Bay. And on the north side, just west of Mission Boulevard, walkers pass three otherwise nondescript buildings that have been turned into colorful, positive cheerleaders for water conservation.

Known by the utilitarian names of Rubber Dam Buildings 1 and 3, and the Grandstand, these small buildings are covered in vibrant, clever water conservation murals, a marvelous end result of Alameda County Water DistrictÕs (ACWD) annual Water Conservation Poster and Slogan Contest for students in grades 1 through 6.

The annual theme is ÒWater is Life,Ó and in 2013, besides publishing winning entries in a calendar distributed throughout the Tri-City school districts, winning posters from previous years were used to colorize these functional, out-of-the-way buildings.

A professional muralist chose which poster designs would be most adaptable to large surfaces, and with help volunteered by Excelitas Technologies, the buildings were transformed as part of ACWD and ExcelitasÕ Community Cleanup Partnership 2013, with support from the City of Fremont, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Cultural Arts Council, and East Bay Regional Park District.

Therefore, anyone depressed by the thought of saving water needs to hit the Alameda Creek Trail, north side. Slogans such as ÒWater is life, so letÕs save it,Ó ÒSaving a stream should be everyoneÕs dream,Ó ÒSave water. . . Water will save you later,Ó coupled with outstanding, vibrant, imaginative murals, will be the pep talk everyone needs to save that H2O.

The showstopper here is the word ÒConserve,Ó spelled out by cartoon animals, bending themselves appropriately to shape the letters. And all this creativity keeps the buildings free of graffiti, too, for TSW8, an anti-graffiti coating, was applied over the paint.

So get out and take a walk, everyone. Enjoy the sunshine, the rubber dams, the ducks, the geese, the coots and herons and egrets, but most of all stop and enjoy these sensational muralsÑand save water!

For trail location and information, visit

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