- Reflecting Pool has been under construction since last November
- New circulation system will keep the water cleaner, Park Service says
- When finished, the pool will actually hold less water than before
- Parks official: "The reflective quality of this pool is of paramount importance"
As the rappellers on the Washington Monument check for cracks in the structure's exterior, they won't be able to see themselves in another Washington landmark: the Reflecting Pool below.
It's currently a giant mud pit.
The pool where tourists have been able to see majestic reflections of both the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial has been under construction since last November to address problems with leaking and to make the water cleaner with a new circulation system.
Although it currently looks like a mess, Steve Lorenzetti with the National Park Service sees it differently.
"I describe it as almost done with the infrastructure necessary for us to finish this project," he said.
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool project is expected to be complete in the spring of 2012.
When finished, the pool will actually have about a third less water than previously and will be shallower.
According to Lorenzetti, the general public won't be able to tell.
"The reflective quality of this pool is of paramount importance to us," he said. "So what you will see if there is no wind is a flat, glassy surface."
The Reflecting Pool is just one part of the aging National Mall that has problems, according to Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall.
She pointed out to reporters Tuesday other mall sites that have been neglected in recent years, including the area called Union Square up near the Capitol.
"Right now, there's this beautiful reflecting pool. But, can we make it a place where people can come cool off in the summertime?" she said, referring to another, smaller reflecting pool near the Capitol.
She describes the National Mall as needing help, saying it needs to be more amenable for visitors.
The Trust for the National Mall is currently running a design contest to come up with a sustainable, creative solution to problems at Union Square.
"It should be one of the most beautiful spaces on the National Mall and it has not really been touched since the 1970s when it was built," she said.