What Better Time to Build a Giant Water Park Than in a Drought?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The East Bay suburban city of Dublin is, in its own words, “a leader in water conservation.” It’s webpage on the drought shares the water-saving policies that give it that standing, including a reduced operational schedule for water play areas in public parks.

There is no mention on that page of the $36-million water park that got the go-ahead from the Dublin City Council in February. The 31,000-square-foot Emerald Glen Recreation and Aquatic Complex is under construction and under fire for its inappropriateness in Year Four of the drought. It is expected to be completed in 2017.

The center includes an 11-lane Olympic-size pool, two other pools, six water slides, and an amphitheatre that seats 2,000. The pools would hold 480,000 gallons of water, about 5% of the water used by city residents in an average day.

Dublin (pop. 55,000) currently has just one 40-year-old public pool, which, when the complex was approved, Mayor David Haubert reportedly said wasn’t fair because, “All our neighbors have much nicer pools and we deserve one as well.”

The facility will also feature, according to the city, “a cardio exercise room” and “other amenities include group picnic areas with shade structures, outdoor ping pong tables, locker rooms, party rental space, and administrative offices.”

The city’s webpage on the complex, called “The Wave,” acknowledges “concerns regarding constructing this facility in light of current drought conditions.” But the city cites its sterling record of responsiveness to voluntary water restrictions and will reassess the situation in 2017 if the drought is still going strong.

But it won’t stop construction unless someone makes them:

“We are hopeful that with two winter seasons between now and the facility's anticipated opening, drought conditions will improve considerably.  Should they persist into 2017, we will continue our practice of being responsible and responsive to restrictions in place at that time.”

The area is not lacking for water theme parks. San Jose has Raging Waters, Newark has the Silliman Activity and Family Aquatic Center and Concord has the Antioch Waterpark and Waterworld California.

Forty-three miles away from Dublin, the city of Manteca is considering construction of a 75,000-square-foot, $200-million water park. The Great Wolf Resort Indoor Water Park would be built by Great Wolf Resorts, the world's largest chain of indoor water parks.   

A report (pdf) by Hotel & Leisure Advisors―cited favorably by the Manteca Bulletin in April 2014―found that 43 proposed indoor water parks are being pursued in 11 drought stricken states. And more are probably on the way. “With the increase of potential waterpark projects being located in drought stricken areas, owners and investors need to increase awareness and change public perception of how water is used at these resort facilities,” the report said.

 –Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Dublin Defends Construction of Massive Water Park During Drought (by Jeremy Thomas, Contra Costa Times)

A Water Park During California's Drought? Let It Slide (by Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times)

What’s Dublin Doing About the Drought? (City of Dublin)

Is Water Conservation at Waterparks Considered Oxymoronic? (Hotel & Leisure Advisors) (pdf)

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