Lincoln Parks & Rec waits to turn on water fountains around town

LINCOLN, Neb. - This weekend's weather was beautiful, and we got a taste of summer with temperatures in the 80's. What we didn't get was a chance to cool down with water from city water fountains.

Parks and Rec says it's waiting to turn on all water fountains until we're officially done with cold weather.

Parks Operations Manager Chris Myers says the department learned its lesson with last year.

"Last year was a particularly difficult year with all the cold weather we had at the beginning of April and then it returned again the third week of April and got really cold," Myers said.

Myers says currently, water fountains have little plastic cartridges that allow you to push the button and make water come out. But when it gets cold, those plastic cartridges can freeze.

"Unfortunately because they're plastic, when it gets cold, they crack," Myers said. "They leak and then we have to fix them and that delays this process even more."

Parks and Rec says it is waiting until there are several days in a row with temperatures above freezing. Although daytime temperatures have been warm, it's only been 8 days since Lincoln's low temperatures have been above freezing.

For runners, the lack of water at the water fountains has been frustrating.

"That usually happens at this transition period, but it also happens in this period where everyone is training for the half marathon," said Jake Friefeld.

Friefeld says he's started bringing his own water bottle to run with.

"Last year I finished a run and went to the water fountain and it was off, so now I just don't even mess with it," Friefeld said. "Before I got my water bottle that I run with, I would stop every lap at my car to get a drink because I kept it in there."

While Friefeild says it's frustrating, he says it may be for the best that he's started coming prepared.

"I can adjust my water intake better this way, so a blessing in disguise I guess," Friefeld said.

Parks and Rec says it understands frustrations, but says it wants to be absolutely sure we are done with winter before opening everything up.

"It's more a precaution than anything else," Myers said. "I understand people hate not having water, but I also understand that if we turn them on too soon, these things can break and then they won't be on even longer in the summer."

For now, runners like Friefeld will have to adjust, but Parks and Rec says it aims to have all water fountains and restrooms open by May 1.