WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, one of Washington's loveliest attractions, will be reopened to the public by the end of August after a $34 million renovation, the U.S. Interior Department said on Tuesday.
The National Park Service will start filling the new 4-million-gallon (15-million-litre) pool on the National Mall this month, the department said in a statement. The process will take three to five days.
"With this renovation, we have given the Reflecting Pool a much-needed overhaul and brought its engineering into the 21st century," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.
The 90-year-old pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial that also reflects the soaring Washington Monument had provided one of the capital's most-photographed views.
It also has been the backdrop to some of Washington's most historic events, including the Reverend Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech in 1963.
But the reflecting pool, which is about 160 feet wide and 2,100 feet long, had degraded badly over the decades.
Built on marshland without pilings for support, the original pool had sunk, causing cracks and leaks. The pool held 6.75 million gallons (25.6 million liters) of water but lost an estimated 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) a week to leaks and evaporation, the statement said.
Because the pool lacked a circulation system, it had to be emptied, cleaned and refilled twice a year. It was shut in November 2010 for renovation.
The new pool is supported underground by more than 2,100 timbers to prevent it from sinking and is shallower than the original. Specially tinted concrete will improve the reflectivity of the water, and dirt pathways have been paved, the statement said.
The revamped pool uses the nearby Tidal Basin as its main water source. The water will be treated and circulated back into the pool.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Vicki Allen)