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Council considers pool options

Posted on January 16, 2014 by Vauxhall Advance

Questions still remain regarding the potential future of the existing Vauxhall Pool, with town council still weighing the advantages of a full-scale repair of the facility, or construction of a new pool.

At the Jan. 6 meeting, council voted unanimously to table a resolution directing administration to obtain quotes for full restoration of the pool as well as cost estimates for a new build.

“We’re excited to start off by contacting friends of the library to see if they can join us, and also to see if they need help forming a society, just to kind of know where they’re at, and if we can work together with them,” said Coun. Marilyn Forchuk, who was recently selected as chair of the town’s pool committee.

“I’m excited to research other information to determine costs on whether to fix our pool, or to build new.”

Coun. Richard Phillips, referencing an engineering report on the facility, questioned any supposition that water in the pool might be leaking directly into the surrounding soil, considering the rate of loss.

“The leaking rate that was put in there is hard to comprehend.”  

Chief administrative officer Barb Miller confirmed that when the pool was last filled, the entire basin drained in one night.

“That’s what’s unbelievable, unless it’s connected to a drain pipe that has an open valve,” said Coun. Phillips.

“To suggest that it’s leaking out through cracks, that’s beyond the realm of reason.”

In the past, water was able to be contained, but that is no longer the case, according to Miller.

“Two years ago, we were able to hold the water from the lip, which led us to believe the problems were in the piping that goes around the deck. This year, when we first filled it, it drained overnight. They did some repairs to a valve in the sewer, they sealed all of that — I have pictures where there are cracks you could put your hand in between the wall and the basin. They tried to seal that, but they just couldn’t hold the water in this year.”

Coun. Phillips was unwilling to accept any explanation that suggested the rate of water loss was due to seepage into the surrounding soil.

“Again, just based on how water behaves in excavations, it just seems way beyond the scope of reason,” he said.

“I would have to suggest the valve is still broken. If you’ve been on a farm, your dugout doesn’t drain overnight. There’s nothing so magical about the dirt here.”

Why is our pool dropping eight feet overnight? It’s not founded on marbles. According to the engineering report, it’s sitting on clay till. It’s just way beyond what can physically happen with water seeping into dirt.”

Miller indicated the surrounding ground has not been saturated, but weeping tiles under the pool foundations may be directing the volume of water into the sanitary main.

“If it was leaking into the ground, the ground should be saturated — so it’s going into a pipe somewhere,” said Coun. Phillips.

Any large scale repair of the facility has potential pitfalls from the perspective of provincial health regulations.

“There are health regulations that dictate what we do and do not do,” said Coun. Russ Norris. “If we try to replace any of the pipes, we have to re-do the whole thing. All of the infrastructure, all of the pipes, all have to be done as a unit. You can’t just dig it out and try to find the break. The regulations say you have to re-do the whole thing. I understand and agree with you — where is the water going — that’s why we pushed for that engineering report.”

Coun. Norris went on to note the pool committee is looking for direction for council on how to proceed.

“We can’t continue to have that kind of water loss, so that’s a decision that the sub-committee is asking, which way do we go. So we need to find out what it costs, get our costs back for all of the infrastructure, be it brand new pool or repair.”

Miller echoed Norris’ assertions on the matter.

“It’s currently grandfathered on the way the water flows to re-circulate. Any change or major repair requires us to bring it up to current health standards and code, which means we’d have to change all of the filtering at a faster rate.”

Coun. Phillips was adamant the water simply cannot be draining solely into the surrounding ground.

“So the filtration is inadequate, and there’s the unexplained water loss from the pool. The water is going into a pipe, because water cannot go into the ground that fast. If that is the correct rate of water loss, it’s not going into the ground that fast. That’s one thing I can guarantee.”

The town’s own staff have reached the conclusion of what they can repair without venturing into areas that would require upgrades under provincial health regulations, according to Mayor Margaret Plumtree.

“Public works stated in a meeting they’ve done all that they can repair-wise, anything else that they touch would enact that grandfathering that we have. We have exhausted all leads in trying to find a leak.”

Coun. Phillips requested the pool’s original design parametres and documents be reviewed before making any decisions.

“There’s no drawings of the pool’s original construction to show guidelines? There should be records of that somewhere.”

Miller warned if a major repair was considered, ascertaining where the province might be moving in future with regard to health regulations would be a prudent approach.

“Before you invest any money — if was deemed repairable — Alberta Health Services definitely has to give its blessing. Even if it gave its blessing, then we would want to know how long that blessing is going to last before you invest in a whole lot of money. So they’re definitely going to be a partner in the decision-making, so they absolutely have to be at the table when the time comes.”

The motion to table was passed unanimously.

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