Can You Recycle an Entire Water Park?

Three water slides at the former Wild Waters Park at Silver Springs State Park.

The Florida Park Service preserves and restores Florida’s natural resources. Recently, state park planners and designers faced a unique challenge.

Plans were in place to dismantle the 8-acre Wild Waters Park at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala. The water park was closed in 2016 after feedback from park users, volunteers, local officials, business owners and adjacent landowners that the park’s main purpose is protecting and restoring Silver Springs. The now-closed Wild Waters attraction included a variety of buildings and facilities. To avoid wasting reusable materials, planners arranged for the debris from Wild Waters to be recycled.

Materials recycled from the water park include:

  • 80 yards of PVC pipe, two-thirds the length of a football field
  • 129,080 pounds of rebar weighing as much as 1.5 semi-trucks
  • 1,440 feet of fence panels; stacked end-to-end, they would be almost as tall as the Empire State Building
  • 69,000 pounds of tin weighing as much as 117,430 rolls of aluminum foil
  • 3,286 pounds of copper weighing almost as much as 500,000 pennies
  • 80,000 pounds of steel, equivalent in weight to 20 cars
  • 8,800,000 pounds of concrete, equivalent in weight to 650 elephants

The project helps protect water resources by removing almost 190,000 square feet of what springs scientists call “impervious area” on the Wild Waters site. Impervious areas, such as an asphalt parking lot or concrete pad, prevent rainwater from filtering into the ground and the aquifer. The elimination of this significant impervious area helps control runoff and improve water quality in Silver River and Silver Springs.

The site will be transformed into a gateway to Silver Springs, shaded by large oak trees and home to birds and other wildlife.

Silver Springs State Park is a 4,500-acre wooded park that encompasses the head springs of the world-famous Silver River. Canoes and kayaks glide along the transparent river with nothing but wild Florida along its banks. Visitors enjoy hiking, biking, camping and staying in cabins in this diverse and beautiful park.