Friday, June 30, 2017

Quinn's Pond reopens; Esther Simplot Park ponds remain closed due to unsafe E. coli levels; dogs no longer allowed

The City of Boise is reopening Quinn's Pond for recreational use after tests show E. coli levels there continue to drop.

EsppondclosureThe City of Boise is reopening Quinn’s Pond for recreational use today after tests show E. coli levels there continue to drop well below state water quality standards, which is considered safe for swimming and wading.

However, daily water quality tests of the nearby ponds in Esther Simplot Park continue to show unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria in the water near the children’s beach and in other areas of the ponds. As a result, the ponds inside Esther Simplot Park (see attached map) will remain closed until City of Boise staff are confident that E. coli levels are consistently reporting below the state water quality standards for recreational use. Signs in the area clearly mark the closed areas and the public is highly encouraged to stay out of the closed ponds. Health and safety of our citizens is top priority.

City staff received DNA testing results back from a lab in Florida that have identified the main source of the E. coli bacteria in ponds throughout Esther Simplot Park is dog feces. Tests also show goose feces is a contributing factor.

DNA testing also showed that dog feces was the main source of E. coli bacteria in Quinn’s Pond, in addition to goose feces. However, as previously stated, bacteria levels in Quinn’s Pond are now well below state water quality standards for recreation.

These test results show that the popularity of the ponds and high use by people and their pets has created an unsafe environment. Keeping the health and safety of our residents who use the ponds top of mind, City of Boise leaders have decided dogs will no longer be allowed at Quinn’s Pond or Esther Simplot Park, with the exception of cold winter months (Nov. 1 – Feb. 28) when the bacteria does not thrive. The parks and ponds will be signed alerting the public to this change, which also includes the previously designated dog off-leash area in Esther Simplot Park.

“These are very popular parks and people understandably love to take their pets when they visit,” said Doug Holloway, the City of Boise’s parks and recreation director. “However, the high use by people and their pets along with the warm temperatures has created significant public health concerns. Please heed these continued closures for the sake of your own and your loved one’s health.”

E-coli infection can, in some rare cases, be fatal. Symptoms include abdominal cramping; sudden, severe watery diarrhea that may change to bloody stools, gas, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and fever.

The City will be increasing animal control officer patrols at Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park to enforce the new rules and anyone found breaking them will be cited.

For more information on Boise parks with dog off-leash areas, click here: http://bit.ly/2t0vqfL

Public Works staff will continue to test the water quality in the ponds at Esther Simplot Park and Quinn’s Pond daily to monitor E. coli bacteria levels in the water. Once levels in the Esther Simplot Park ponds are consistently well below state water quality standards for recreational use, Boise Parks and Recreation will reopen those ponds for swimming and wading.

Boise Parks and Recreation staff is working to move water through the ponds using two water sources. The first being the groundwater that naturally flows into the ponds. The second method is using irrigation water purchased through the Thurman Mill Ditch Company. That water flows into Quinn’s Pond, which then flows through Esther Simplot Park ponds one and two.

The City of Boise also contracts with professionals to move the geese at Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park. Those efforts will ramp up in light of the test result findings.

We continue to ask the public to obey all posted signs and stay out of closed ponds.

As a reminder, there are some important safety and general use tips to remember if you do plan to recreate in City ponds where swimming and wading is permitted:

  • Don’t ingest the water
  • Wash your hands after use
  • Be sure to shower after swimming.
  • Pick up after your dog when using Boise parks
  • Keep your pets out of the water
  • Don’t feed geese or ducks