The Water Conservation Garden is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in El Cajon on the campus of Cuyamaca College. The Helix and Otay Water Districts conceived the idea of The Water Conservation Garden as a response to the drought in the early 1990’s. The water districts joined with Cuyamaca College to create a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that resulted in the creation of The Water Conservation Garden. Other organizations (Sweetwater, San Diego County, and City of San Diego) joined the JPA in subsequent years. In January 2011, the governance of The Garden was shifted from the JPA to an independent non-profit Board of Directors.

Entrance to Water Conservation Garden 2000

Nationally known for leadership in water conservation, The Garden has won recognition from the American Public Gardens Association as one of the eight top gardens in the United States for its community education programs.


Ms. Smarty-Plants(TM) Field Trip

In May 1999, The Water Conservation Garden opened with a 4.5 acre plot on the Cuyamaca College campus. Thanks to an additional land donation by the college, The Water Conservation Garden has grown to 6 acres.

Docent teaches visitors of The Garden

In 2013, The Water Conservation Garden’s nationally recognized Ms. Smarty-Plants™ education program won the Governor of California’s Environmental Leadership Award. We were also named “Best Garden/Nursery” by residents through the East County Californian and “Best Educational Facility” by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce.

Spring Garden & Butterfly Festival 2017

Just last year, The Water Conservation Garden and its Ms. Smarty-Plants™ programs reach more than 88,000 community members through field trips, assemblies, special events, tours, workshops and classes. Even though times change, our commitment to our mission remains stronger than ever. The Water Conservation Garden continues to serve as a vital community resource about the conservation of water and other natural resources. From our first land acquisition to our latest educational exhibits, The Water Conservation Garden is constantly evolving and bringing innovative solutions to the San Diego community.