Written by: Eileen Frere

A water park is set to open in Garden Grove next year, causing a controversial response in the midst of a severe drought.

While driving along Harbor Boulevard, it’s hard not to notice the huge wolf and massive resort going up behind it.

Dozens of city leaders went on a tour through the construction site of the Great Wolf Lodge, which will include more than 600 Northwood-themed suites, seven restaurants, a kiddy spa and a 100,000 square foot indoor water park. The park will have 16 water attractions, including a six-story funnel slide called the Howlin’ Tornado.

“We drop you about 25 feet, switch you around and out you go,” said Phillip Cunningham, General Manager of the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California.

A huge bucket also fills up and dumps 1000 gallons of water every four minutes.

“I think it’s awesome, great tourism attraction but it is quite controversial,” said Garden Grove resident Matthew Duncan.

Controversial to some, it’s a water park opening in the midst of a severe drought. How much water the entire resort will use is not clear.

“Per day? We really don’t know that yet,” said Cunningham.

The company’s General Manager said for the water park itself, it will take less water to fill it than an Olympic-size swimming pool.

“We have the technology. We recycle over 90 percent of our water, and in the indoor environment, there’s less evaporation,” he said.

“This agreement was approved a long time before anybody was talking about the drought,” said Steve Jones, Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Garden Grove.

Jones said the resort is a huge boost for the city, not just creating hundreds of jobs, but in hotel tax dollars from the estimated 400,000 visitors each year.

“We expect about $7 to $8 million per year coming from this project alone,” said Jones.

Only visitors who are staying at the resort will have access to the water park. Room rates will range from $250 to $600 a night. The resort is expected to open in February 2016 and reservations have already been accepted for next year.

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