BEND, OR -- The popularity of Bend’s newest park has prompted Bend Parks and Recreation to issue warnings to swimmers. Discovery Park and its irrigation lake opened during one of the hottest Junes on record, and visitors flocked to the oasis in search of relief. "There’s a little beach on the south end, so it was quite tempting when the park first opened- because it was so warm, for people to start swimming in there. We’re not restricting swimming, but people need to be aware it was not designed for swimming," Park Services Director Pat Erwert tells KBND News.
Erwert says the lake is intended as an irrigation pond and a holding tank for storm water runoff. "It was not designed for swimming; that would be an incredibly expensive project to try and do something like that. You’d have to line it and chlorinate the water and treat it basically like an outdoor swimming pool. We can’t be chlorinating the water when we’re putting it on our vegetation and the lawns around the park site." Because it’s not chlorinated, Erwert is concerned about the water quality.
Given the popularity of the lake, Parks and Rec will test the water on a weekly basis for E. Coli and coliform, but Erwert says that’s not a complete picture of its safety.
Officials are also concerned about the many visitors choosing to jump and dive into the shallow pond. "There’s a dock on the lake that was intended to be a fishing dock, but due to the high number of people just in the water, we’re not stocking it for fishing at this time. But, the water is very shallow; it could be 12” right next to that. When there’s a lot of activity, it gets a little murky and people can’t see how deep it is. There’s also a concrete block retaining wall and people are jumping in there, also into very shallow water."
Crews will install signs this week alerting visitors of the hazards and warning that swimmers do so at their own risk. Bend Parks and Rec is hosting a grand opening celebration for Discovery park in NorthWest Crossing on Thursday.