The City of Santa Barbara took the drought-conscious action of resuing the water from the Oak Park wading pool rather than discarding the water into the sewer. The Parks and Recreation Department and Fire Department worked together to pump approximately 16,000 gallons of dechlorinated water from the wading pool, using the water to irrigate many of the large oak trees in Oak Park.
“There are over 800 trees in Oak Park,” said Tim Downey, Urban Forest Superintendent for the City of Santa Barbara. “595 of those are coast live oaks, the species from which Oak Park got its name.” Downey added that many of the larger oak trees date from the era of the park’s acquisition by the City in 1904.
“A large tree the size of many of the Oak Park specimens usually requires at minimum two thousand gallons of water each day. When it’s not getting that, it can cut evaporation and get by with less, but that causes stress to the tree,” explained Downey. “The trees in Oak Park are stressed, but we are monitoring them and will take necessary measures to keep them healthy.”
Parks Manager Santos Escobar put the situation into perspective. “The water from the wading pool isn't going to make up for the effects of the current serious drought; Oak Park is going to remain a little dry and ‘gold’ while the drought persists,” Escobar said. “But it will be a help, and we thank the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department for helping us make sure this water isn't wasted.”
Fire Department personnel used the opportunity to practice pumping water from a static source, a process often utilized when water supplies are interrupted or unavailable during earthquakes and wildfires. The exercise occurred on Monday, September 28, 2015 at approximately 9:00am at the Oak Park wading pool.
Acquired by the City of Santa Barbara in 1904 with the help of fundraising efforts led by Henry Tallant, Oak Park is a popular picnic and recreation site. The park, located on Alamar Avenue between Tallant Road and West Junipero Street, features playgrounds rated for two- to five-year-olds and five- to twelve-year-olds, two public tennis courts, an outdoor raised wooden dance floor, horseshoe pits, picnic and barbecue sites, and a wading pool. Oak Park is also home to many large-scale local festivals.
The Oak Park wading pool has been a part of summertime recreation for Santa Barbara families since it was constructed in 1928. The water level at the pool is 12 inches and it holds approximately 16,000 gallons of water. The pool is open each summer from mid-June (typically one week before the start of City summer camp sessions) through August; during that time period the hours of operation are 12:00pm to 5:00pm and lifeguards from the Parks and Recreation Department’s aquatics staff are on duty. During the 2015 summer season, the Oak Park wading pool served over 9,000 participants.