WASHINGTON — The National Park Service will be draining the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool this weekend and spending the next several days cleaning and treating it after a waterborne parasite killed 80 ducklings.
The National Park Service first grew alarmed about a “significant number” of duckling deaths around May 20, National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst told WTOP.
A review by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center determined the deaths were caused by a parasite that grows in snails that also inhabit the pool, according to the park service.
The parasite likely didn’t affect full-grown ducks “because they’re older, they’re more developed,” Litterst told WTOP. “Their bodies are perhaps resistant to a degree.”
The pool will be drained June 11, with cleaning and treatment slated for next week. The park service aims to start refilling the pool by June 16 and have everything back to normal by June 19. The park service will continue to monitor water quality.
Chemical treatments, alone, are not enough to completely eradicate the parasite, the park service said.
The parasite can cause an allergic reaction in humans called “swimmer’s itch” in humans, which is not contagious and rarely requires medical treatment. But the risk of anybody contracting it from the reflecting pool is low because it is only contracted through sustained contact, such as swimming or wading, the park service said.
Across the National Mall, grounds crews last month installed special ramps to help ducklings and other water fowl safely exit and enter the Capitol Reflecting Pool.