Keeping the pipes, parks clear

Photo by Tony Kukulich

The playground at Timber Point Elementary School in Discovery Bay closed as part of the effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Town of Discovery Bay made the decision to close its playgrounds and some of its open spaces last week in keeping with the changing state mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The town is also renewing its ‘No Wipes in the Pipes’ campaign to remind residents who cannot find toilet paper that wipes, even those labeled as ‘flushable,’ cannot be flushed down toilets.

As a special district, the town manages its parks and recreation and its water and wastewater services on its own.

In a letter dated March 24, the town detailed the closure of its park facilities. Regatta and Slifer parks, owned by Contra Costa County, are closed entirely, including walking paths and open green spaces. At Ravenswood and Cornell parks and the tot lot, only play equipment, picnic tables and benches are closed, while paths, open green spaces and other amenities remain available for use.

Discovery Bay general manager Mike Davies said these closures are indefinite, as the situation remains fluid. There are no plans for town staff to take extra cleaning measures on equipment, water fountains, tables or benches, as these are all closed. Davies did add that if residents do not comply with closures or social distancing while they are out, the closures could be extended to include all green spaces and walking paths.

“Should it become necessary for any reason to close those locations, staff will make the decision to do so and keep the Board informed,” Davies said.

Residents took to social media to express their opinions about these closures and were mostly supportive.

“There are plenty of ways to exercise otherwise, so we fully support (the closures) and hope Discovery Bay remains a protected area,” wrote Lisa Latai Tonga on Facebook.

Suzanne Gonzalez agreed, adding that play structures are ‘breeding grounds’ and should be closed.

“It’s sad we had to close the parks because people were congregating and not keeping distance,” wrote Colleen Munoz. “I generally only walk my dogs at the park, so it has not greatly affected me, personally.”

Kristina Mcardle felt differently, expressing the opinion that staying away from parks should be an individual choice.

“It’s an overreaction to close public parks which (are) some people’s outlet,” Mcardle wrote on Facebook. “We paid for these individually through taxes, and if you don’t feel safe, don’t go, but don’t hinder the people who are. I’m not scared of the flu.”

In addition to monitoring the situation at the town’s parks, Davies and his staff are very concerned about wipes ending up in the town’s sewer pipes. Davies said any materials other than toilet paper must not be flushed down residents’ toilets, as they can cause major problems in the sewer, impacting service and requiring costly repairs.

Bernie Sadler is the project manager for Veolia North America, the company contracted to manage and maintain the Discovery Bay water and wastewater system. He also urged residents to refrain from flushing wipes into the sewer system.

“With the situation going on currently, people are out hoarding toilet paper and people are using baby wipes and flushable wipes, and those are not supposed to be flushed down the toilet to the sewer system, because it clogs up our sewer system and our pumps,” Sadler said.

He added the wipes cause clogs, backups and overflows, destroying the pumps and damaging equipment.

For more information, call 925-634-1131 or visit www.todb.ca.gov.

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