In the past 7 years the City of Wichita Falls has spent close to $8 million on two now City owned entities that rely heavily on water. As the drought has progressed, and we've all been asked to conserve, many of you have reached out to us to ask why Castaway Cove is open and how the Champions Course at Weeks Park will survive if the City hits the Stage 4 Drought Disaster.
Let's start with Castaway Cove. In 2009 the Wichita Falls City Council approved using $3.9 million of 4B tax money to purchase the water park. At that time, there was no indication there was a drought ahead, and the park has done nothing but make money each year since the City bought it.
"We've averaged about $200,000 to $250,000 profit each year, revenues above expenses so, from that stand point it really has been a success story," said Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker.
The misconception with Castaway Cove is that it is a big water user. However, that is just not true. The park has not drained pools and it recycles its water.
"Just because it's a big swimming pool doesn't mean that we use water. We use one three-hundredths of 1%, actually less than that, is our water usage," said Castaway Cove Park Manager Steve Vaughn.
Vaughn says he is asked daily at the park how water is being conserved. City Manager Darron Leiker said that three hundredths of 1% water usage is less that a lot of other businesses in Wichita Falls.
"That's less than a medium size hotel. That's less than the Sonic restaurants in town use. So, we're very efficient with the operation of the water park," said Leiker.
Castaway Cove is actually doing so well that expansion could be in the near future to keep the park fresh. That is something Vaughn says needs to keep happening.
"When we do all the improvements. We keep the park clean. People enjoy coming here, making it fun for people, the park is going to survive. It's going get bigger and bigger," said Vaughn.
In 2006 Weeks Park underwent a $4 million renovation. Everything but the clubhouse, was replaced. But, with Stage 4 looming, it's possible the most expensive part of any golf course could be in danger of drying up.
"It's been very challenging," said Head Golf Professional Tony Dodge. "The main thing that we've been concerned with is taking care of our greens and tees as much as we can. But greens have been our main priority."
Weeks Park has an irrigation pond that right now is pretty full. It gets water directly from Lake Arrowhead. If, and when, Stage 4 kicks in that water will stop flowing to the pond.
"Under Stage 4 the current plan would call for golf courses to not receive any potable water. We have some back up plans," said Leiker.
Those plans include making sure the irrigation pond is full before stage four kicks in. Another is possibly drilling a water well. A third is to use any salvageable water from Holliday Creek which runs right through the course. And, a forth option is to truck water in from the waste water plant to keep the greens alive.
"You don't want to lose those greens. The rest of it we can work with and recover and be fine, but the greens, that's a huge investment. That's probably $100,000 a green investment," said Leiker.
While money talks, Tony Dodge put the possible golf course problems in perspective.
"If people can't flush their toilets, I think they're not going to be to concerned about playing golf. I mean it's just a wait to see what happens with the sky," said Dodge.
Darron Leiker told Newschannel 6 that if the irrigation pond is full in early August, Weeks Park officials feel they can keep the greens alive through the last part of the summer until the fall when hopefully we see some rain. When it comes to Weeks Park success. Tony Dodge told us the drought has not affected the Champions Course business. He said if anything it seems like their numbers have been up over the last few years.