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Opening day a splashing success





It was cool and cloudy at noon Saturday, but it still was warm enough for Hays Aquatic Park to open for the first time this season.

"We really want to be open" for the first day, said Grant Lacy, aquatics director for the Hays Recreation Commission.

Lacy said normally the temperature should be approximately 75 degrees for the park to open. On Saturday, even though it was cooler at the start of the day, there still were children splashing in the water.

Kim Meier, Hays, brought her two young girls to the water park.

"This is the first time we've come out for the first day," she said, adding her kids have been wanting to go for some time now.

"They've been asking since the first of May," she said.

"It's exciting," Lacy said. "We want to be open. Patrons here are excited because they want to swim."

The HAP has approximately 80 employees, including Joshua Brungardt, in his third summer working at the park.

"It's fun," said Brungardt, a 2013 Hays High School graduate who is attending Fort Hays State University. "It's a great summer job to have."

The city of Hays is in a water warning, which limits outdoor watering. The next stage is a water emergency, when all outside watering is banned, including the filling of pools.

The HAP requires approximately 1.1 million gallons of water to fill, and used 3.2 million gallons of water in 2013 through evaporation and water splashing out.

Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty said having the water park open is a quality-of-life issue. He added it benefits not just Hays residents, but those from out of town who use the park and spend money at local businesses.

"I think from our standpoint, it's about budgeting our water to provide the most beneficial use," he said.

Dougherty said if the projection was for a water emergency at some point this summer, then the recommendation to the city commission likely would have been not to fill the pool.

"We don't feel like we're going to hit the water emergency stage during this season," Dougherty said.

Meier was happy to have the pool open.

"I was wondering if it was going to be open this year," she said. "I'm glad that it did, to give the kids something to do."