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Why did the Cal Anderson duck pool turn red?

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

There is a lot of water testing going on around here these days. Seattle Parks officials tell CHS they’re working to figure out why the Cal Anderson reflection pool water has taken on a red hue. If it turned purple this week, there would be no questions. But apparently water testing is needed to figure out what, exactly, is plaguing the duck-friendly pool. “Our crews will take a sample to have the water tested this week,” a spokesperson said. “Once we have results, we will develop a plan to drain, clean and refill the pool.”

While a working reservoir still lurks below Cal Anderson (CHS wrote about it here in 2015 when the facility was due for a cleaning), the reflecting pool next to the pump house is purely for aesthetic. There has been a reservoir at the site for 115 years. After the state mandated that Seattle’s open water sources needed to be covered in the early 1990s, community groups helped lead an effort to cap the reservoir with a park. The ripple pool and water mountain have become an iconic element of the neighborhood. But a murky red pool? Not as much.

Meanwhile, volunteers got soaking set but were also filled with well-earned righteousness after a Cal Anderson Park Alliance Capitol Hill Community Council and Capitol Hill Ecodistrict clean-up day on Sunday. Another opportunity awaits as Pride season kicks off. The 2016 Capitol Hill Clean Sweep is June 7th.

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16 thoughts on “Why did the Cal Anderson duck pool turn red?

  1. Just to clarify, the event was actually a joint project of the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Eco-District.

  2. I noticed the red color the other day and made a comment to another park user about it. He proceeded to go on a rant about the nuclear reactor underground there that the government was using to poison us.
    Oh well, just another example of how hard it is to strike up a conversation with random people around here.

    • I sincerely hope you are wrong. With that said, the fact that the park has turned into an open air toilet it is possible.

  3. The maintenance of Cal Anderson Park is atrocious. After arranging a meeting and walk through with Park Department supervisors a year ago, the only action taken was the replacement of the park bench (just south of the children’s play area) that had been missing for months.
    It’s sad state is made more so by the knowledge of the hours volunteered by friends and neighbors towards the design and development, the number of “drive by’s” and lounging I witness by park department employees and the higher level of care given to other city parks .

    • It was rightfully identified as one of the best urban parks in 2009. Unfortunately, Seattle’s leadership and police lack the political will to keep the junkies from camping there all summer and turning it into a dump. The park maintenance staff are forced to be their housekeeping service. I don’t blame them for letting up on the maintenance. It is a leadership problem.

  4. Junkies and the homeless are now part of the fabric of urban life in most cities.
    Other citizens use the park for activities and leisure .It once was lovely, a source of pride ,now nothing works, it’s a pit and that fact, in not so many words, has been pointed out to supervisors and they don’t care.
    The Seattle Parks job is to maintain our community property, that is what they are paid to do and they are doing it poorly.
    We keep throwing money for park levies.Ugh.

    • They are part of the fabric of Seattle to the degree they are, because of a combination of social issues, individual choices, and public policy. We can impact the latter but the question is whether we have the political will to remove the implicit welcome by our city, by spending money on services, allowing mass trespassing, camping on streets and the like. Read this recent article about San Francisco in the New York Times. You will see that there is division there like here on a willingness to address the issue. In the meantime, years of denial and wishful thinking have led to what SF has become in that regard. It is coming or has come here as well:

  5. Junkies, urban campers, thieves, trespassing, pissing, loitering and a slew of low level infractions or crimes remain unenforceable because of the city,s policy on social services vs enforcement. Blame the cops all you want but they are obeying the city,s policy. Failure to do so gets them on the grease and out the door. So who are these leaders that make policy? It,s easy to forget after elections come and go. Remember the state of the city and how it got there when election time comes again. The solution is in your hands, you just get sidetracked with political BS. Good luck Seattle.

  6. Man, am I the only person who actually enjoys the park?

    I walk through the park every morning and every evening to and from class/work. On these walks it’s pretty rare that I see homeless folks doing anything else but sitting on benches or sleeping in the grass.

    On nice days there are people with their dogs or kids running around or lounging in the grass. The park obviously has issues, especially towards the play area, but the way it is described on here, you’d think it is actually impossible to enjoy the park as intended. I just don’t think that is true.

    • I agree 100% – it’s still a great park, and well used by the community for all the purposes you’d hope a park would be used for. Sure there are homeless people, and sure it’s dirtier than it was when it was brand new, but I still enjoy it and never feel unsafe when I’m there hanging out.

    • Agreed David.

      Thing is, I don’t mean to suggest the park doesn’t need improvements, or to invalidate times that people have felt unsafe or unwelcome. I just think the “nothing but junkies and trash!” sky-is-falling hyperbole makes it feel like all is lost and folks shouldn’t even try.

    • I use the park frequently, and think it’s a great park. I agree with Jesse that there are improvements to be made, but the squawking about how awful it is is overblown.