NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – An "enormous floating playground" will soon be coming to the Shark Wake Park on the freshwater lake at the North Myrtle Beach Part and Sports Complex.
On Monday, the city council approved a resolution authorizing the addition of an "aqua park" to the lake, which will include a series of inflatable slides, jumping pillows, bouncers and runways all connected together and floating on a portion of the lake, according to a Facebook post from the city.
Greg Norman, Jr., the owner and CEO of Shark Wake Park, said he hopes to have the aqua park in May.
He said the goal of the wake park, and soon, the aqua park, is to get people outside and active. He said they offer different kinds of experiences for people and it's a trend around the world right now to put in aqua parks next to wake parks.
"It also offers swings, ramps, ladders, trampolines, slides, wiggle bridges, and more," the city's Facebook post states. "There are great variety of different shapes, sizes, and functions, which add to the excitement."
The city posted an example of what the aqua park would look like and said they will publish a photo or illustration of the actual park when they receive it, along with details on pricing, hours and more.
In response to people's concerns about the park on Facebook, Parks and Recreation Director John Bullard said the lake is tested every two weeks for e.Coli as part of a SCDHEC requirement to operate a natural public swimming area.
He said the samples cannot exceed 126 MPN, or most probable number of e.Coli microbes, per 100 milliliters.
The result of the most recent sample from the lake taken on February 7 was 1 MPN per 100 milliliters.
"You basically have drinking-water-quality water in our lake," Bullard said.
Bullard said the samples have never been close to the threshold.
"The highest it's ever been has been six which you can see is far below the magic number of 126 most probable number of e.Coli," Bullard said. "Really clean water."
Bullard also addressed concerns of brain-eating amoebas.
"It's very rare if something like that happened," he said. "I've never seen anybody here or anyone in an aqua park setting that has contracted that."
The city posted this comment on Facebook about the possibility of alligators in the lake: "No sign of one. And people have been wake boarding for months without an incident. 99.9999% proof that the gators are elsewhere."
Bullard said he doesn't know of any alligators or snakes that have been in the lake.
Norman said his staff also has never seen an alligator in the two years they've been building and then operating the wake park.
The staff members still check the lake for alligators before they open, he said.
The aqua park will be located in an open portion of the lake, next to the wake park, but on the outside of it, so Norman said the people enjoying the aqua park will be far removed from those who are wakeboarding.
He said multiple lifeguards will be on-site on all sides of the aqua park and on the aqua park itself as well.
Everyone will be required to wear a life jacket.
Sessions will be 45 minutes long and people will be able to sign up online for a specific time, Norman said.
He said he hasn't figured out the price yet, but he can say it will not be as expensive as a similar aqua park in New Jersey that charges $35 for a 45 minute session.
He also said people will be able to get a discount for additional sessions.
The reason for the 45 minute sessions is safety because only a certain number of people are allowed on the aqua park at one time.
"They will be very diligent to making sure all the rules and regulations are enforced and complied with," Bullard said.
Norman said he is looking at two manufacturers right now and he's searching for a layout that will maximize the usage of the area of the lake the aqua park will go in.
He said he's hoping to put in an expedited order because the goal is to have it ready to go in May.
"We want everyone to come, enjoy, and have a great time," Bullard said. "Tell everyone how magnificent North Myrtle Beach is and come back and see us. We think this type of facility will meet those requirements."