Popular Walnut Creek splash area shuts off due to CO2 shortage

The popular spray ground at Larkey Swim Center in Walnut Creek turned off its spigots Tuesday for the foreseeable future due to an unusual circumstance.

The carbon dioxide gas needed to treat the water has become increasingly scarce, and it’s unclear when the park will be able to re-up its supply, city officials said Tuesday.

"CO2 is an important chemical used to treat the water that flows through the spray ground to assist with maintaining clear and safe conditions that meet county health department standards," Walnut Creek Recreation officials wrote in a social media post.

Workers at the park said supply chain issues prompted a region-wide shortage of the gas.

It was a major bummer for visitors who were still able to swim in the adjacent pool, which officials said is on a different system and is unaffected. 

"Keeping the kids comfortable with water – that’s a big thing, especially for parents," said Orinda resident Gulya Barclay, who came to the splash area from with her 3-year-old son Samuel. "He’s sad. He’s sad about it."

Michelle Farmer recently moved to Walnut Creek and came to check out the splash area with her nieces for the first time. 

"We were definitely super bummed," she said. "There was no going down the slides. No playing with the creatures. Hopefully next week. Does it come back that fast? I have no idea."

She noted that California and the rest of the country have been grappling with supply-chain trouble in wake of the global pandemic.

"We need to realize that we became terribly familiar with a really convenient way of life and that was never sustainable," she said. 

The US has seen co2 shortages in the past, especially during the pandemic. Some of the nation’s biggest supplies showed limited supply online.

It’s not yet clear if splash areas or water parks are effected by the shortage. Walnut Creek officials say once their resupplied, they’ll re-open the splash area. 

Families like Farmer’s said they’re refusing to let the setback dampen their moods. 

"We had fun in the pool," she said. "We didn’t need the splash pad. Who needs the plastic toys anyway. You can just have fun in the water right?"

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at Evan.Sernoffsky@foxtv.com and follow him on Twitter @evansernoffsky