Eganville – The popularity of the splash pad has put a lot of pressure on the Eganville water treatment plant and Operator Darryl Verch worries about the possibility of running out of potable water, so council agreed to give permission to shut the popular venue down for two hours each afternoon if needed.
“They use as much water on Saturday and Sunday as if I had a structure fire,” he told Bonnechere Valley Township council last week.
Because of the heavy water use, he told council he is worried Eganville might run out of potable water, so staff have been monitoring it closely on weekends to ensure there is enough treated water at the plant.
“Someone has to be watching the plant all day along,” he said.
The splash pad hours this summer have been from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Councillor Tim Schison said it must be the splash pad is being used continuously with the children hitting the button to make the jets go all day long on the weekend. Mr. Verch said it becomes a concern for the other users in the system in Eganville.
“I can make the water, but I can’t make potable water,” he said.
The water plant is very strictly monitored, so it all must be done properly and the plant must stay in compliance, he added.
Mayor Jennifer Murphy asked if the splash pad could be shut down for a certain amount of time to alleviate pressure.
Recreation Manager Kevin McGrath, who was also present at the meeting, said some municipalities shut it down for a certain portion of the day.
“How much do you need for recovery time?” questioned Councillor Jack Roesner to Mr. Verch.
He said if the splash pad was closed for two hours, it would make a big difference.
“Between 12 and 4 is the hottest part of the day,” Councilor Tim Schison noted.
Mayor Murphy agreed it needed to be open in the afternoon.
Councillor Brent Patrick expressed his surprise this was happening this year when the splash pad has been in operation for several years. “What have we done other years?” he asked.
Mr. Verch said they have just been juggling it so far. “You can’t not have potable water for the residents,” Coun. Schison said.
Coun. Roesner said they should look for direction from Mr. Verch on what he recommends to ensure the water plant can keep up.
“If you start at 11 instead of 10,” Mr. Verch suggested. “Then you don’t see a big rush.”
He said one possibility would be to have the splash pad open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then closed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and reopen from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Mr. McGrath cautioned the morning hours are also popular. “We have been up there in the past and when it is hot there are moms and tots there first thing in the morning,” he said.
Coun. Patrick asked if the potable water pressure has been in place other years.
“It is the weekend,” Mr. Verch said. “There seems to be an awful lot of demand.”
“It has worked the last four years,” Coun. Patrick noted.
However, Coun. Schison said the village is seeing more users on the system as well.
“We are seeing a lot more young families with young children,” Mayor Murphy pointed out.
As well, people are venturing out more now it appears, she said.
CAO Annette Gilchrist said the COVID shutdowns may have had an impact on usage in the past two summers, so there has not been an accurate representation of the pressure on the water system.
“This could be the first real official summer,” she said.
Coun. Patrick suggested they speak to other municipalities to see how they handle the pressure from the water usage at the splash pad.
“We are not the only ones with a splash pad,” he said.
Coun. Schison said he was concerned about the pressure on the water system.
“When you compare the demand on the system to a structural fire, that is a lot of usage,” he said.
Mr. Verch said he has been monitoring the situation closely and if the splash pad is using too much water and the plant can’t keep up, he will deal with it by closing the splash pad to alleviate pressure.
“If we get into a problem, I will go shut it off,” he said.
Council agreed to allow staff to shut the splash pad, if necessary, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to ease the pressure on the water treatment plant.
“When you are equating it to a structure fire that is scary,” Mayor Murphy said.
She acknowledged people will be disappointed with the closure for two hours, but the potable water must be protected. Council asked staff to see what other municipalities do about the pressure on the water treatment plant due to splash pads.
The Leader confirmed on Tuesday before press time the hours at the splash pad have not been reduced yet, but staff are continuing to monitor the situation closely. Mr. Verch said a notice from the township seems to have eased some of the pressure on the water system and they continue to monitor it after making some initial adjustments.
The notice from the township reads as follows:
“Each year, the warmer weather brings a higher demand on water systems - leading to decreased potable water reserves, low water pressure and in extreme cases putting the water system at risk and making it difficult to fight a fire.
The warmer weather also increases visits to our Splash Pad further increasing the demand on our system. We have decreased the flow to the Splash Pad to try and decrease the demand on our water system.
At this time, we are monitoring our potable water supply closely. Should the need arise, we will be turning off the Splash Pad daily from 3 pm to 5 pm to allow our water system to recover from the high demand.
We invite you to visit Rotary Beach as a way to cool off in the water when the splash pad is unavailable.”
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader