U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- It didn't take a drought to inspire Water World
to sell soft drinks in chilled bottles and serve ice only to
customers who request it.
In a park where 547,000 visitors splashed around in millions of
gallons of water last year, the park accounts for nearly every drop
-- and ice cube. By not using ice cubes, the park saves about 30,000
gallons of water per year, said Joann Saitta, spokeswoman for Hyland
Hills Park and Recreation District, which operates Water World.
``It didn't take a drought for us to recognize that water is a
precious resource. It's in our name. It's in our spirit. It's in our
blood,'' she said. ``We have been on a water diet for years.''
The park uses drought-tolerant plants and artificial turf, bans
midday watering and irrigates with recycled water. Splash water is
returned to attractions. Water conservation measures save the park an
estimated 15 million gallons of water a year.
Next month, such steps will enable the park to open Storm, a
churning 700-foot route featuring a 60-foot drop, howling wind,
rumbling thunder, flashing lightning and toppled buildings. Water
will be pumped in from an adjacent attraction.
``As people are having to do with less water at home, it makes
sense for the greater good, for more people to come and enjoy a water
facility together as a community,'' Saitta said.
Water will cost more this year because of drought surcharges,
though Saitta could not estimate how much the surcharges would add to
the park's water bill.
Water World, celebrating its 25th anniversary, set an attendance
record last year and expects even more visitors this year, even
though the state's worst drought and sagging economy have had a
negative impact in some sectors of the state's tourism. The 64-acre
water park has 41 attractions and operates between Memorial Day and
Meanwhile, crosstown competitor Six Flags Elitch Gardens also has
taken steps to save water over the past two seasons.
Marketing director Tracy Durham said ponds, water misters and a
waterfall will remain dry for the second season in a row and the
downtown amusement park's water rides will close an hour earlier than
in previous years. The amusement park's water attractions include
speed slides, a wave pool, and a family raft ride.
Durham said the park recycles water where it can. Last summer, it
donated some 880,000 gallons of water to Denver and surrounding areas
``We're doing our portion and then some, things that are not even
required in order to support water conservation,'' she said.
Rick Root, president of the World Waterpark Association in Lenexa,
Kan., said parks around the world have become more mindful of
environmental issues. ``It's good business,'' Root said.
The international water park industry is worth more than $1
billion annually. Last year, water parks drew 72 million visitors
worldwide, according to the World Waterpark Association.
At least one state tourism official argues that local attractions
such as Water World and Six Flags Elitch Gardens stand to benefit
from consumer wariness over the ailing economy and security hassles
at airports. Eugene Dilbeck, president and chief executive officer of
the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, said research
indicates that Americans increasingly are willing to spend their
money closer to home.
``The Water Worlds of the world are getting the benefit of some of
that,'' Dilbeck said. ``We certainly had the failing economy that
drove people to be more budget-conscious in the way they spent
discretionary money for vacations and trips.''
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