Water Quality at City of Boise Swimming Ponds

Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park on a warm, sunny summer day
Quinn's Pond

The Boise Parks and Recreation Department manages swimming ponds within the City of Boise’s park system. Quinn’s Pond, the ponds at Esther Simplot Park and Boise Cascade Lake/Veterans Memorial Pond are open for swimming and wading from sunrise to sunset. Parking and use of the ponds is free.

Water Quality

In partnership with the city’s Public Works Department, employees conduct weekly water quality tests from April through September to monitor bacteria levels. Should test results show unsafe levels of bacteria, including E. coli, a pond or ponds could be closed for a period of time for the safety of the community. When bacteria concentrations are found to be above health criteria, signs will be posted around the body of water warning users to stay out or swim at their own risk. Otherwise, the city’s swimming ponds are open throughout the spring, summer and fall months for swimming, wading, boating and fishing.

Infrastructure Updates

The City of Boise invested in a variety of upgrades in recent years, in addition to implementing new park rules and procedures, aimed at improving water quality in the ponds at Esther Simplot Park and in Quinn’s Pond, especially during peak season. These changes include installation of underwater aerators to aid in water circulation, and a pilot project that introduced river water directly into the ponds through a large pipe.

The 2020 freshwater pilot project showed promising results and the city moved forward with the installation of a permanent river intake the following year. A larger freshwater intake pipe was installed to introduce more fresh water into the ponds. The city purchased additional water rights in 2022 to keep fresh water moving through the ponds in the summer months. The results have been promising and weekly water quality testing shows bacteria levels remain low in the ponds in the summer (July 2022).

Ongoing Mitigation Efforts

The intake improvements have helped to improve water quality in addition to ongoing geese management plans coordinated by Boise Parks and Recreation, restrictions to keep pets out of the city’s swimming ponds, public education efforts to dispose of waste properly, and the addition of new bathroom facilities for pond users near the Quinn’s Pond beach.

The city will continue to evaluate conditions at its swimming ponds and recommend adjustments as needed to improve water quality.

Safety Tips

There are some important safety and general use tips to remember if you do plan to recreate in the city’s swimming ponds or any open body of water:

  • Don’t ingest the water
  • Wash your hands after use
  • Be sure to shower after swimming
  • Pick up after your dog when using Boise parks or other recreation areas
  • Keep pets out of the water
  • Don’t feed geese or ducks

Test Results

For more information on weekly water quality test results for the city’s swimming ponds, please submit a public records request.

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For other after hours park related emergencies (i.e. irrigation issues, restrooms), please call (208) 489-6640.