AUSTIN (KXAN) — This is the second summer that people aren’t able to cool down in the Liz Carpenter Fountain and Splash Pad, which is part of Butler Park at 1000 Barton Springs Road.
Austin Parks and Recreation closed the splash pad in June 2015 due to damage from spring flooding. A June 12 notice said the pad was closed due to leak in the pumping system.
The splash pad was turned on for testing for a little more than two hours Wednesday afternoon. Kids were quick to take advantage of the splash pad and escape the summer heat.
“Everybody’s happy! It’s wonderful, you know the kids come and play here and it’s refreshing,” said mom of two, Miriam Gaddy. But the excitement didn’t last long. After being closed for more than a year, the fountain was only turned on to do some quick tests before it was shut off and left to dry up. A city worker said they’re waiting on permits before they can turn it back on again.
“They were very sad that it wasn’t coming back on, and I was kind of disappointed too because I had hoped it would stay on for longer,” said Heather Hadd, a babysitter hoping to enjoy the outdoors with two little girls.
The problems all started when last year’s rain damaged much of the electrical equipment used to run it all. “We were subject to an insurance claim so we had to work through that process and to make sure we could recapture some of the replacement costs,” said Austin Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Marty Stump. He says crews continue to work to get the splash pad up and running. Now they’re just waiting on an electrical inspection, which should happen by the end of the week.
“It did take us a little longer than we had hoped, but we are very pleased with the finished work,” said Stump.
Even if the park passes inspection, the fountain won’t be the way it was before the flood. There won’t be lights and the water won’t spray like it used to. Regardless families are ready to have their splash pad back. “I would really love for it to turn back on,” said Hadd.
This isn’t the first time the Liz Carpenter Fountain has been closed. In 2010, the fountains were shut down for some time because the filter system could not handle the dirt and grime from the large number of people using it. At that time, the city spent more than $1 million to put in new filters and a disinfectant system to keep the water clean.
A 2014 inspection of the splash pad indicates that all the equipment was in working order. The Liz Carpenter splash pad is one of eleven city splash pads. You can see other pools and splash pads closed in the Austin area here.
There have been issues finding enough lifeguards for city pools, but splash pads don’t have lifeguards present.