Crews Drain Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to Stamp Out Duckling-killing Parasite

WASHINGTON — The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool should be back to normal by Monday after a thorough cleaning. And it should once again be a welcome haven for ducks and geese.

The National Park Service drained and cleaned the pool after crews found about 80 dead ducklings over a period of about two days in late May.

Experts with the National Wildlife Health Center found elevated levels of a parasite in snails that live in the water.

“The only way to get everything back in balance was to drain the entire pool, clean it and refill it,” said Mike Litterst, spokesman for the National Park Service.

Going forward, Litterst said park officials will be testing the water more often. He said the water does circulate and is regularly infused with ozone to keep bacteria levels down, but it is not undergo the same level treatment as tap water or a swimming pool.

And that’s why the reflecting pool is for looking, not touching, he said.

“Don’t cool off, or walk, or wade in it,” Litterst warned.

Dedicated in 1923, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was rebuilt in 2012 after experts found that it was leaking hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the surrounding land. The new pool has a circulating system, pulling water from the nearby Tidal Basin. The pool is about 18 inches deep at its edges, sloping down from each side to about 30 inches in the center. A drain runs down the middle for nearly all of the pool’s 2,029 length. It holds about 6.7 million gallons of water.

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