Drain on the budget

Plaza Pool temporarily closed to repair leak

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Plaza Pool Director Krista Morrow looks at a mostly drained Plaza Pool, which was emptied so a leak could be fixed. The pool holds 163,000 gallons of water when full.

ALPENA — A large leak found at Plaza Pool Thursday has resulted in the pool being closed indefinitely as repairs to the pool and its deck are made.

It is estimated about 500,000 gallon of water drained from the pool before the leak was detected. The pool holds 163,000 gallons when full.

Plaza Pool is owned by Alpena County and managed by Synchronization Management. Much of its maintenance is done by the county maintenance department.

Pool Director Krista Morrow said when there is a leak it is difficult to track down because of the amount of pipes and equipment in the system.

“It is a hard and timely process,” she said.

In order to fix the leak a portion of the concrete deck needed to be torn apart and much of the pool drained so repairs can be made. Once that is completed it will be refilled, needed chemicals added and allowed to warm.

Commissioner Cam Habermehl said Suez, the water company that manages the city’s water and sewer operations, noticed a spike in the amount of water being used at the pool and contacted the county. He said that intensified the search for the leak.

Habermehl said the pool already was using more water this year, 18,000 gallon at the end of the quarter compared to 10,000 for the same time period in 2016. He said filling the pool again and other water use will add to that amount significantly. Habermehl said the water lossed from the leak, and the water use for the rest of the year will not be cheap, but the county will find the money to help Synchronizations pay for the high bill.

“At this point of the year, I don’t think they have a lot of money left in their budget, so we’ll have to come up with a plan and figure out how we’ll pay for it,” Habermehl said.

Habermehl said the pool was built in 1967 and even though many improvements and repairs have been done to it over the years, leaks are to be expected sometimes. He said he is not concerned about overall condition of the pool.

“It’s an old pool and with all of the water heaters, pumps hoses and lines, there are always going to be leaks,” he said. “That is the cost of doing business with it.”

Morrow said before the leak there was a lot of activity and the pool was busy. She said once people learned the slight price increase wasn’t that bad, traffic increased.

“We were seeing a lot of new faces and the user base was getting bigger,” She said. “We were really finding our groove.”

Morrow said she didn’t want to speculate when the pool would reopen, but she said it is already scheduled to be closed on Thanksgiving, as well as the weekend after it. Combined with the current closure will result in people not being able to swim and a loss of revenue. Habermehl said despite the setback, Morrow and Synchronizations are working hard.

“They are doing a great job and are doing everything they can to keep costs in check,” Habermehl said. “I think they are one of the main reasons the pool is still open and we would have a lot more problems if we didn’t have them.”

Morrow said progress on the repairs and updates on when the pool could open will be updated on its website and Facebook page. There also will be updates on the doors of the facility and via local media, she said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.