Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whitewater park for kayakers planned on Trinity River in Dallas despite water quality concerns

By STEVE THOMPSON / The Dallas Morning

 Trinity River, which often seems like a dirty drainage canal, may soon be home to kayakers splashing in specially created rapids.

This area of the Trinity River, beneath the DART rail bridge (left) and an old, unused railway bridge just south of downtown Dallas, will be home to a whitewater park perhaps as early as this fall. Construction is set to start next month.

It's the first major amenity inside the banks of the Trinity – far ahead of the much grander plans stalled by federal flood-control concerns. City officials hope the whitewater park will alter the character of the river, making it a place to go, not just a thing to cross.
The state has long deemed Dallas' stretch of the Trinity unsuitable for activities such as swimming, diving and water-skiing because of elevated bacteria levels that signal the presence of animal waste and human sewage. But Dallas officials say the water is fine for the $4 million whitewater park, just downstream of the Corinth Street bridge south of downtown.
"We want people to embrace the river, to be interested in the river, and to come down to the river," Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan said. "Kayaking provides something to see when you come there."
And many paddling enthusiasts say they aren't worried.
"If you're going to paddle in North Texas, you're probably going to paddle in places that are at flood stage, and at flood stage the water quality is much worse than what it will be at that park," said Larry Lewis, president of the North Texas River Runners. "I'm not that concerned about the water quality there."