Water leaks and a lifeguard shortage have prompted the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to delay the opening of city pools, limit operating hours and consider closing two pools for the season, residents learned in an April 28 Austin Monitor story.
Two-thirds of city pools are leaking water, according to the Austin American-Statesman’s City Hall blog. The city is considering closing two of the six leakiest pools — Mabel Davis Municipal Pool in Southeast Austin and Metz Neighborhood Pool in East Austin — based on attendance and the proximity of other public pools. Both pools are in City Council District 3, the district of new council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria.
Of the 256,000 gallons public pools lost each day citywide, Mabel Davis pool lost 25,561 gallons and Metz pool lost 21,192 gallons in a 2014 city aquatics study. Together, the two pools lose as much water as 374 Austinites use each day, while averaging just 328 daily visitors, according to the study. Repairs could cost $1.6 million, the department told the American-Statesman.
Closing the two pools for the summer would save about $500,000, or $400,000 for Mabel Davis Pool alone, according to an April 30 Austin Monitor story. Last year, the department’s Aquatics Division was $482,000 over budget, the Monitor reported.
Seven city pools in Central and East Austin are at risk of failure in the next five years, the department said (see April 28 Austin American-Statesman story and map).
After neighborhood residents protested the closures during a Parks and Recreation board meeting on April 28 (see video), the department said it is reconsidering its decision, but would need to evaluate options to repair or patch the leaks. A decision is expected within two weeks, according to an April 30 KVUE report.
Meanwhile, the city is holding lifeguard hiring days on May 7 and 20. The first 500 lifeguards hired could qualify for a $100 bonus from the Austin Parks Foundation. Learn more here.
Update: The city announced on May 13 that it was allocating additional resources to detect and repair leaks, and would reopen both pools for the summer. It’s possible that leaks will continue, the announcement said. See the press release here.