No fewer than a dozen people have  called in the last couple of weeks with the same complaint: how can the city of Wichita Falls justify opening Castaway Cove while we are in the grips of a drought?

I spoke with Steve Vaughn, Castaway Cove park manager today and asked that very question.  How can we justify it?  How much water will it require?  Is it really worth it?  Steve was nothing less than forthcoming about the whole matter.  While the drought has had an affect on the park, keeping it closed, at least at this point, is not the lesser of two evils.  Castaway Cove employs 150 people and generates about $1.5 million in revenue for the city.  Shutting down not only means no revenue, but 150 more people would find themselves in the unemployment line.

As far as water use, Vaughn says the impact is not as serious as we might think.  "The pool was not drained over the winter.  That saved approximately 650,000 gallons of water.  We had increased chemical costs to treat it, but that's water we did not have to replace", Vaughn said.  "And we're using less that 3/100 of 1 percent of the total city water use.  That's less than most hotels and car washes".

One feature of the park will not be in use this year.  The 'whale fountain' will be out of commission.  Vaughn says that since this feature utilizes a fountain of water, which of course creates spray, it will be shut down as a conservation method.  All other aspects of the park will be open and fully functional. Vaughn stated that the grounds are not being watered, but trees are getting water in an effort to spare them from the drought.

Currently, Wichita Falls remains at Stage 3 drought status.  But what if the move to Stage 4 becomes necessary?  "No definitive plans are in place just yet,  but we're told it would be the end of August at the earliest before we would reach Stage 4", Vaughn stated.

Will you be going to Castaway Cove Water Park this season?  What are your thoughts on the issue?  Be sure to comment and take our poll below.