A dye test designed to seek out the elusive drainage issues with the Vauxhall Public Pool was a bust, leaving town council to try and figure out what their next move might be.
During their regular meeting on May 5, council discussed an April 25 dye test performed by Public Works foreman Cris Burns designed to show where water was leaking from in the pool, which has had ongoing leak issues.
The results of the test were inconclusive, according to a report written by Burns.
“(There was) nothing real specific as to where it’s leaking from the test,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree.
She pointed out there was caulking missing from the walls of the pool, and suggested this could be a cause of the leakage. She suggested, sealing paint or perhaps a pool liner might be used as a temporary fix, and that if workers could fill all the cracks to the point where the leak was substantially slowed, the Municipal District of Taber might step in and help shoulder some of the costs of filling the pool through the Vauxhall and District Regional Services Commission.
“There’s a possibility they might waive their fees on the water, if we can get it so it doesn’t drain so much,” she said.
She noted the town would have to pay close attention to the amount of water used because the chemicals used to keep the water clean are expensive.
“It’s great and all that the water’s free, but (we would be) spending a fortune on chemicals,” she said.
“We’re probably just looking at a band-aid solution,” she said. “It might only get the pool running for this year.”
Deputy Mayor Russell Norris said it was important that council find a way to get the pool up and running as soon as possible.
“The M.D. and (local residents) were very concerned last year with this pool not being open,” he said. “The public awareness of the pool not being open detracts from Vauxhall as a community.”
“We’re under the gun right now as a council,” he added.
Norris said if the pool was to be opened for the summer, staff needed to be hired and issues resolved by the beginning of June. He indicated council was under a lot of pressure to make something happen.
“By not having it open this year, we’re cutting our throats I think,” he said.
Norris also expressed frustration that after all the work which has been done on the pool, and all the testing, council still lacked a definitive reason for the leakage.
“I still don’t feel comfortable understanding this,” he said.
“There’s got to be something to fix it.”
Coun. Richard Phillips said it is just not possible for the pool to simply be leaking as much water as it is into the nearby soil, a view he has long held.
“There’s farm dugouts all over the country, and they don’t go dry overnight,” he said. “None of them have a concrete liner with all the seals caulked. And the water stays there. And that’s why I’m saying there’s no way the water is just leaking out of the cracks and into the dirt.”
“The speed of water seeping through dirt is extremely slow,” he added, which he said leads him to believe there are possibly undiscovered issues with the drain pipes. He asked council to look at the pool as a type of farm dugout with a concrete lining.
“Think of it that way,” he said.
Plumtree noted the previous chief administrative officer informed her outdoor pools were not supposed to be emptied in the winter, and this could be part of the issue.
“There’s a possibility (this is) part of the reason we’re having this trouble,” she said.
Phillips said frost under the concrete could damage the pool if it was empty.
“If it’s full of water, you’re not damaging the pool,” he said. “When frost gets under something, it heaves, it cracks, and it breaks.”
“It makes all kinds of sense to leave it full of water in the winter.”
Coun. Martin Kondor said the pool was originally covered in the winter with a wooden cover and left full of water, but the practice was halted many years ago.
“I think they just quit because it was too much work to put that (cover) on all the time,” he said.
Plumtree said the town is coming to a point where there isn’t much else which can be done with the pool as it stands in regard to testing to find the leaks.
The view of administration could be that it is time to hire engineers and start moving toward either replacing or going ahead with the massive upgrades required to bring the pool up to current health standards.
“If we build a new pool or repair the old one, we still need to find out where the water is going,” said Norris.
“It’s money either way,” said Plumtree.