Idaho Statesman

Here’s what Boise’s doing to get you back in the water at Esther Simplot Park

By July 30, 2018No Comments

Boise Parks and Recreation is working to clean algae out of the south pond in Esther Simplot Park so that people can get back in the water before summer’s over.

The department is pumping water out of the pond and into a wetlands area in the north part of the park, Director Doug Holloway said Monday. The ground there will filter out contaminants as the water seeps through it and back toward the Boise River, Holloway said.

Parks and Recreation plans to buy and install machines to circulate water in the pond and in Quinn’s Pond, just south of the park. Holloway said. Each pond will get three of these aerators, which are designed to stop algae blooms from occurring by moving the water. They’ll cost $50,000, Holloway said. The department will use money it has set aside for emergencies like this, he said.

“It’s not cheap, but these are bodies of water that people are relying on in the summer months,” he said.

Parks and Recreation detected a blue-green algae bloom July 19 and closed the Esther Simplot south pond

for all recreation, including swimming, paddle boarding and rafting. Holloway said the algae isn’t toxic, but he wants to remove it before allowing people back in the water.

“That does not mean that the next time a bloom pops up that it also will be nontoxic,” he said.

Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park’s north pond remain open. Simplot’s south pond is popular for swimming because it has a beach; the north pond does not.

Holloway said he didn’t know when the aerators would be installed or when he would re-open the pond.

Blue-green algae is not actually algae, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. It is photosynthetic bacteria, or cyanobacteria. It can be harmful to human and animal health. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, mouth ulcers and blistering of the lips.

The bacteria occurs naturally but can grow, or bloom, in hot, stagnant conditions with the right amount of light and nutrients.

Blue-green algae has plagued several bodies of water around Idaho this summer. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation closed Eagle Island State Park’s lake July 18 and has not re-opened it. Horsethief Reservoir, located east of Cascade, also is closed.

The death of a dog near Rexburg was blamed on algae, but the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality later announced that it had found no algae in that area.

Both Simplot ponds and Quinn’s Pond were closed for almost two months last summer, the Simplot ponds’ first year of operation, because of a different kind of bacteria, E. coli, that Holloway said was caused by dog and goose feces. The city banned dogs, began chasing geese away, and flushed water through the ponds faster in an effort to keep the problem from recurring. The ponds are tested regularly for bacteria.


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