Wild Rivers Water Park returns with promises of conservation

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Starting Thursday, Southern Californians will see triple-digit temperatures as a heat wave sweeps through the weekend. High temperatures will peak on Saturday, and no one could be blamed for wanting to cool off in a pool or slide down a waterslide.

Earlier this month, Wild Rivers Water Park in Irvine reopened after an 11-year hiatus. The newly built 20-acre water park is nearly twice the size of its previous version, but Wild Rivers reappears in drier California, at a time when the state’s largest reservoirs are at historic lows and when water restrictions are in effect throughout the Golden State.

The amount of water needed to fill the park is “approximately the same amount of water as it takes to fill two Olympic size swimming pools,” according to John Fabris, spokesman for the Irvine Ranch Water District, which supplies the park.

“The new location was built with brand new equipment that has a robust, on-site filtration treatment system that allows them to reuse water for slides and rides again and again,” he said. declared.

Regarding the optics of opening a water park during a drought, Fabris said the agency conducted water supply assessments and determined that it had enough water to cover the project as well. than all “existing and intended customer uses” for at least the next 20 years. years.

“It’s understandable,” he said of the question, “but it’s also a popular attraction for the community. And having people congregating in one place beating the heat in a situation where water is being used efficiently is ultimately much more water efficient than when my kids were little and we used to turn on the slide and slide around the garden and let it run all day.

The majority of California is in the midst of a severe drought, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s US Drought Monitor. Water restrictions dot the state’s landscape, and brown lawns have sprung up in response.

Preliminary data for June, which represents about 30% of the state’s population, shows water savings of just over 7% compared to June 2020, according to the California State Water Resources Control Board. Other parts of the region are also seeing success with the water restrictions that began last month.

In late 2011, California entered a nearly seven-year drought. That same year, Wild River closed, and although the new iteration of the park is larger, according to the water district, thanks to its improved amenities, the park will use 10% less water than the old one. location. Questions about opening a water park during a drought are fair, said Eric Gieszl, director of customer experience at Wild Rivers.

“I can understand where some people may be concerned,” Gieszl said. “But when you learn the real facts of our use and compare it to other uses of water, I think people suddenly realize that our use is really insignificant overall.”

The park fills its pools once at the start of the summer season and recirculates the water through its filtration system and pumps, Gieszl said. Any additional water use must take into account evaporation over the season, Gieszl said.

The park will also water the landscape with reclaimed water instead of household supplies, and the park’s urinals will be waterless. Wild Rivers will also be a major employer for teens over the summer and an economic engine for Irvine, Gieszl said. He compares the park’s water draw to a golf course, which he says can only be enjoyed by a few people at a time.

“Many of our guests were former customers,” Gieszl said. “And they’re back in the park and a lot of them are bringing their kids.”

Unlike parts of the state that rely heavily on supplies from Northern California and the Colorado River, only 18% of Irvine’s water comes from outside the region, Fabris said, with 82% coming from the groundwater and reclaimed water from Orange County.

However, the area is under phase 2 water restrictions, which requires water-saving measures such as avoiding wetting sidewalks and using hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles.

The park is subject to the same restrictions, Fabris said, including the state’s new rule that prohibits irrigation of non-functioning turf. The park also benefits from drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation, he said.

As with residential customers, the park is also subject to a “budget-based water rate structure”, which charges them for the water actually received.

“So Wild River, like all customers, is motivated to be as efficient as possible with its water,” he said.

This weekend’s heat wave will persist into next week and pose serious health risks to vulnerable people.

A high pressure system moving in from the east will raise temperatures 4 to 8 degrees above average, according to the National Weather Service, and there will be a risk of monsoon thunderstorms in the mountains and deserts. Triple digit heat will creep into the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Salinas Valleys and near 105 degrees in the Antelope Valley.

“This kind of heat is typical for this time of year,” said Tyler Salas, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego. ” It’s going to be hot. Relatively speaking, it will be less humid.

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