Separate water loss problem traced to recirculation system

PoolBoxBy Ann McCreary

The Wagner Memorial Pool will celebrate its 50th birthday with a party on Sunday (Aug. 7), but the event may be slightly bittersweet.

After delaying the pool’s opening by about a month this summer to complete renovations aimed at plugging perennial water leaks, Twisp public works officials have discovered that the problem is only partially resolved.

The pool is still leaking water after the town completed a $170,000 resurfacing project that repaired cracks in the shell of the pool and replaced the plaster and lining inside the pool.

The pool has been leaking water — more than 1,000 gallons per day — for years. The resurfacing project reduced the water loss by about 35 percent, but the continued leaking is a surprise and a disappointment, said Andrew Denham, Twisp public works director.

“We had hoped the relining would fix all of the water leakage that had plagued the Wagner Pool for the past decade … but we do still leak water from somewhere unknown at this time,” Denham said.

“We do know that the pool itself does not leak any longer, but we will need to do further investigation to find the remaining 65 percent of water loss that we currently experience,” Denham said.

He said the leaking appears to be located in the water recirculation system, which pulls water out of the pool, treats it and returns it through jets to the pool.  The recirculation system is difficult to access, but sometime in the past decade — Denham thought 2007 or 2008 — the concrete decking was cut away to check the system and it was deemed to be functioning properly.

“It’s important to note that in the past 10 years the recirculation system had been pressure tested and passed. All of the evidence was pointing to the pool liner,” he said.

The resurfaced pool isn’t leaking, Denham said. “Before we turned the system [water recirculation] on, we had static water level.” 

Denham said the pool would remain open for the season while the source of the leak is investigated. The investigation will likely continue after the pool closes for the season.

It may require sending cameras through the piping of the recirculation system, or injecting dye into the system to try to pinpoint leaks, he said.

Work was necessary

Even though it didn’t result in a complete fix for the leaking, resurfacing the pool was something that had to be done, Denham said.

“The pool lining was deteriorated to the point at the end of the season last year that it could be pulled off the shell by hand, and we had to use large heavy rubber mats to cover the gaping holes in the liner. We would not have been able to operate at all until the entire pool liner was replaced,” he said.

Two pool contractors looked at the pool and declined to give a bid for the repair because the damage and cracks were too extensive, Denham said.

The town hired William Smith & Associates of Ellensburg, a firm that specializes in pool construction and maintenance.

“We are extremely happy with the work that was performed at this point and the response form the community has … sent a clear message that we did the right thing,” Denham said.

Many towns and cities face problems with leaks in public pools, Denham said. “Typically pools have issues like this.”

Friends of the Pool, a nonprofit community organization that supports the Wagner Memorial Pool, has been working to raise money to pay for the resurfacing project. The town had initially planned to complete and pay for the work in two phases, but determined that the entire project needed to be done this summer to be successful.

As a result, the town is still several thousand dollars short of the funds to pay for the resurfacing project. Denham said.

“We hope that the Wagner Pool 50th party … will help us reach our goal to completely fund the pool renovation,” he said.

“It’s been quite an accomplishment to give new life to a 50-year-old pool that could have been decommissioned” without the partnership of the town and Friends of the Pool, Denham said.

Friends of the Pool has raised about $250,000 for the pool since 2005.