Coral Mountain Resort: Kelly Slater Wave Company is building a wave pool in La Quinta, California | Photo: Coral Mountain

I have read several articles from multiple surf magazines and editorials that question the sustainability of wave pools throughout the world.

Many have published deep-dives into the full environmental spectrum of greenhouse gasses, pollution, soil subsistence, hydrology/drought, displacement of indigenous plants and animals, contamination, and so on.

And while I know that many conscientious developers, architects, and engineers plan builds to minimize disruption to existing communities by choosing properly zoned sites, I question those that do not abide by this standard.

Case in point: Coral Mountain wave pool in La Quinta, California.

I mention this development because I live here - 2,000 feet away at the nearest points.

Now, I do not claim to have studied the environmental reports for every wave pool built or planned in the world or even the United States, but I did do a cursory review on Google Earth of US wave pools.

And the majority, if not all, are planned so as not to be inserted into the midst of thousands of residential homes.

This southern portion of La Quinta, California (Coachella Valley), is home to numerous retirees and snowbirds.

And while the median income here is admittedly high, the residents purposely chose the peace and quiet of this semi-isolated area to live in.

Coral Mountain: the La Quinta resort will feature seventeen 80-foot light towers illuminating and surrounding the pool and reflecting off the mountain | Photo: Coral Mountain

Visual and Noise Pollution

We take offense in being called "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) as the rationality to change existing residential zoning to accommodate an 18 million gallon wave pool with a 150-key hotel, 100 plus casitas, and hundreds of private residences.

All eligible for one-day minimum vacation stays is insane. Add to this, parking lots - lit all night.

Seventeen 80-foot light towers illuminating and surrounding the pool and reflecting off the mountain, a speaker system that announces the next upcoming wave (every 3-5 minutes), constant verbal commentaries, a multi-story viewing tower, large projection screen(s) because who can see barreling surfers a half-mile distant, four-plus special events per year at a minimum - read, concerts - no infrastructure increases to support the park's workers - read, bus service, fire, and emergency medical technician (EMT) - law enforcement, two-lane roads that merge into one, no substantive plan to manage after-hour noise, hours of 7 am to 10 pm.

Every single day of every year, nonstop.

Every issue raised was answered unsatisfactorily by stating that everything has been researched and all cases fall within given parameters - all marketing speak.

Who would want this in the middle of their neighborhoods?

Know this too. This wave pool will be the fourth one in the Valley.

Two are for public usage, while an even larger wave pool in Thermal Beach Club has been approved less than six miles away from Coral Mountain, and both are absolutely private.

The existing Lemoore, California, Surf Ranch wave pool (same Kelly Slater namesake) can cost $10,000 per day to book, so I assume the same will apply here.

In addition to these four wave pools, one huge lagoon is also planned, and all these water parks will draw fresh, potable water from underground aquifers.

A Wave Pool in a Drought Area

No one knows exactly how much water is contained within these aquifers, but California and the West are and have been in an unprecedented drought.

We don't know the climate future, but the precipice is in sight, so to green light all five of these water-intensive projects is asinine.

By the way, as California residents, we are required to cut home water usage by 15 percent.

So, we cut consumption, yet these pools and lagoons are exempt?

A couple of weeks ago, an earthquake reminded us that the San Andreas Fault Line courses under us, and one speculates this question.

At what magnitude will this half-mile pool of water, equipment and concrete begin to deteriorate and rupture?

Where does the water go when this occurs, by the path of least resistance downhill?

City Councils want revenue, developers want to develop, and economies need to grow. I get this, but things are evolving.

Change is required to preserve resources and do better in all societal endeavors.

Everyone wants to jump on this wave pool business train, but I can already sense the over-saturation and the eventual closings coming from Google Earth.

They'll look like giant scars on the planet.

Future archeologists may scratch their heads as we currently question the purpose of the Nazca Lines.


Words by Derek M. Wong | La Quinta, CA, Resident

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