Parents report foul smell, children becoming sick after playing at splash park outside DC rec center

- At least three children have fallen ill after playing at a splash park in Northwest D.C.

The splash pad at Turtle Park outside of the Friendship Recreation Center on 45th Street and Van Ness Street was closed on Monday as crews were seen working in the area. This comes after kids were reportedly sickened after playing in the water at the park on Friday and through the weekend.

One parent wrote in a tweet, "Sewage in the splash park at Turtle Park all weekend. My son got an eye infection, other children sick- no signage saying there is a problem." Two other parents reported that their children have been vomiting since playing in the splash pad.

However, it is not known if their illnesses are directly related to the water at the splash park.

The park reopened last summer following a huge renovation project at the recreation center.

On Monday D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, sent a letter to the director of the D.C. Department of General Services, which maintains District facilities. She wrote that parents said the foul sewage smell was there on Friday and their department was notified that day.

The letter also said "that the smell was particularly bad this weekend" and "parents witnessed sewage rising from sewer grates."

Cheh has called for an immediate investigation.

In an email from a Department of General Services official to a parent with a sick child, the official suggested the sewage smell could be related to the recent heavy rainfall.

But Cheh said her office told the Department of General Services about the smell two weeks ago. She was told it had to do with mulch getting into the splash pad.

Parents said officials should have started warning people then.

“You want to hear about that in advance as much as possible,” said parent Chay Rao. “I understand that the city has a reason for not wanting to do it, but as a parent, I would want them to be able to communicate that as quickly as possible.”

“I would like to see some signs here,” said parent Martin Vanbek. “That is strange that they didn't tell anything about it or warn the parents that there is something wrong with the water.”

Department of General Services Director Greer Johnson Gillis said in a statement:

“The spray park in Friendship ‘Turtle’ Park has been closed while the Department of General Services (DGS) investigates reports of foul odors. Resident safety is our priority and we are working to resolve concerns quickly.  We will keep the community updated as we learn more."

Parents also told FOX 5 that there were also reports of yellow water last week at the splash pad at Livingston Park, but it appeared to be fine on Monday.

If your children became sick since playing in the splash pad at Turtle Park, you are advised to contact D.C. Department of Health as they are documented these cases.

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