Testing Shows Elevated Bacteria Levels at Esther Simplot Park Pond 1, Quinn's Pond Beach Area

June 30, 2021

8/16 Update: Esther Simplot Pond 1, Esther Simplot Pond 2 and Quinn's Pond are open. No warning signs currently posted. 

Recent water quality test results show rising levels of E. coli bacteria at Esther Simplot Park Pond 1 (where the children’s beach is located) and along the beach at Quinn’s Pond (the side of the pond closest to Esther Simplot Park). Signs are posted at both beaches warning users to swim at their own risk. At this time, E. coli bacteria levels are higher than state levels for recreational swim beaches and the city is encouraging users to swim in other areas until tests show levels have come down. 

The test results follow days of high use at the ponds and triple-digit temperatures in the Treasure Valley. The city will continue to treat areas of the ponds that have high levels of bacteria in the coming days. 

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

The freshwater pilot project showed promising results and the city has moved forward with a permanent river intake. In 2021, a larger freshwater intake pipe was installed to introduce more fresh water into the ponds. The city is seeking additional water rights to keep water moving through the area in the summer months, with work scheduled to be completed after the irrigation season. This means the full extent of benefits from the freshwater inflow project won’t be realized until 2022.

These latest improvement projects are in addition to geese management plans, dog restrictions, public education, and the addition of new bathroom facilities on site.  

“Our team is doing everything we can to increase the flow of water through the ponds, improve water circulation and address bacteria,” said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “We encourage people to visit the new Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park on the southeast side of Quinn’s Pond where test results show bacteria levels remain low. Veterans Pond and Esther Simplot Park Pond 2 are also open for swimming, paddling, and fishing.” 

City of Boise employees conduct water quality tests weekly at Esther Simplot Park, Veterans Pond and Quinn’s Pond from April through September.  

The Boise Parks and Recreation Department has been in touch with Central District Health and the district has not received any reports of people getting sick after swimming at the ponds. It’s important to remember that during the summer months, Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park are popular destinations. Use has been high and is expected to remain so.

Here are some important safety reminders if you plan to visit the City of Boise’s ponds that are open for swimming and wading: 

  • Don't drink the water
  • Wash your hands after swimming or recreating
  • Be sure to shower after being in the water
  • Dogs are not allowed in the ponds
  • Don't feed geese or ducks
  • Alcohol is not allowed at the ponds
  • Lifeguards are not on duty

The city will continue to provide updates on the status of the ponds as they are available. 

Contact: Parks and Recreation Media Relations

(208) 608-7600 | bpr@cityofboise.org

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