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Park to make smaller splash amid drought
A £180,000 water park set to open in Wallingford this month may be restricted amid drought concerns.
Thames Water said the water feature, including fountains operated by pressure pads, would not be affected by the hosepipe ban imposed in April.
But South Oxfordshire District Council, which is building the park, has held talks with the water company and will volunteer to open it on a restricted basis.
Council leader Ann Ducker said: “The talks with Thames Water focused on lowering the pressure of the fountains and restricting the hours they are used.
“We want to act responsibly but it would be a great shame not to be able to use it at all – we don’t want to disappoint the public.”
SODC spokesman Andrew Roberts said: “Despite some recent delays due to the weather, building work on the new splash park in Wallingford is largely on track and, weather permitting, we hope to open this month.”
Mr Roberts added that the open-air pool facilities in Wallingford are due to open from May 26 and remain open until September 2.
He said: “The fountains are on during the day and the number of hours they are on for could be restricted, but no decision has yet been taken.”
Thames Water spokesman Simon Evans said: “If this is a kids’ paddling facility then it is not on the list of prohibitions.
“If SODC does decide to use the fountains on a restricted basis that would be a commendable approach to our water shortage.
“We need to save as much water as possible now so there is more to go round later.
“Water is in short supply despite April’s heavy downpours, and the essential needs of our customers must take priority over manicured lawns and ornamental fountains.”
Some town councillors, including Betty Atkins, opposed the water feature when it was announced last year, but were won over after visiting a similar attraction at Abbey Meadows in Abingdon.
Mrs Atkins pointed out that the water was recycled, adding: “It would be dreadful after all this effort if the use of it had to be restricted but I think the only restriction will be down to the weather.”
A cafe kiosk next to the open-air pool could be opened from May to September, once funding has been approved.