WASHINGTON – The Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool is empty once again, and it will remain that way for at least another week.
The historic site reopened in late August after nearly two years of construction. While the U.S. National Park Service says the $34 million renovation has been successful and will save the city about 32 million gallons of water per year, the buildup of green algae in the pool came as a surprise.
The National Park Service says it could have waited for the algae to disintegrate and go through the pool’s filtering system.
Instead, National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson says officials decided to expedite the cleanup by draining the water in the pool Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re going to disinfect and clean the pool, and then we will refill it from the Tidal Basin,” she says.
The renovation was funded by President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, and the National Park Service has allocated $100,000 to help clean the pool.
To prevent the algae from returning, workers have to recalibrate the system that disinfects the water flowing in from the Tidal Basin.The system is designed to neutralize nutrients that feed the algae, but it had not been properly calibrated, Johnson says.
Dozens of workers, wearing rain boots and pushing snow shovels and squeegees, cleaned the pool Thursday afternoon. A date to refill the pool has not been announced.
“We know that our visitors are a little disappointed that they can’t get close to the pool right now,” Johnson says.