If repairs to two of Lodi's favorite pools aren't completed soon, residents will have slim options for swimming this summer.
The shallow southernmost pool at Blakely Park on Stockton Street has sprung a leak, and about 8,000 gallons of water are rushing daily into the surrounding earth. Members of the Lodi City Council on Wednesday night approved calling the situation an emergency and spending up to $20,000 for repairs.
An inspection and plans for repairs could begin today, said Jeff Hood, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
The item was added to the agenda at the last minute as a Public Works emergency.
"We're not really sure what's happening," Hood said. "We can't see it, we just see the result."
City staff discovered water seeping up through the concrete pool deck and causing a large puddle near the playground on Tuesday.
The 70-by-30-foot pool leaks only while the circulation system is pumping water. It has to run occasionally to prevent the water from stagnating, allowing mosquitos and other insects to breed.
One option other than repair is to drain the pool. But without water, the weight of the earth will push inward and cause the walls of the pool to cave in. If repairs take too long, the damage to the pool would increase the already large price tag.
The city has a contract with Paragon Pools, a swimming pool cleaning and repair company in Lodi, to maintain the pools at Blakely Park, Lodi Lake Park and Hutchins Street Square. The leak wasn't spotted earlier because it took some time for the water to seep up to the surface.
"We'd like to get the to work as soon as possible to get to the leak and see what we have to do," Hood said.
No council members opposed declaring the need for repairs an emergency, but they didn't want Public Works to fall behind on current projects.
"Can we treat the pool at Hutchins Street Square as an emergency as well?" asked Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce. "I know some of the seniors who use that pool think it is."
But what if the problem is worse than anticipated? If repair workers open up the system and find a completely blown plumbing system, Mounce wants to know the details for Plan B.
Hood said Paragon Pools is familiar with the filter system at the pool, and gave a ballpark estimate.
The project would come back to the council and go through the normal contract bidding process if the leaky pool escalates into a burst dam scenario. If repair costs go beyond $20,000, money will come from the city's general fund to pay the difference.
"The bidding process could take four months. The summer swim season is coming up in a month and a half. There may be a time when you have to make a decision whether (the problem is) terminal or not," said Councilman Bob Johnson, who said he would be willing to declare even a larger pool repair an emergency to speed up the process.
The pools at Blakely Park are open to the public on weekends from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. During the week, swim leagues and instructors rent the pool for lessons. Thanks to donations from businesses, there is enough money to pay for lifeguards for 10 weekends, allowing the public to swim for free this year.
The heated indoor pool at Hutchins Street Square is still out of commission.
The bid for contractors to replace the deteriorated pool lining at the Hutchins pool will open in late April, and the work will start soon after. The cost to replace the lining is at least $50,000.
"It's taking a while, but we're making progress," said Hood. There was some talk of a transition to a salt water pool instead of chlorine at Hutchins, but that won't be possible. The gutter running around the edge of the pool is made of metal, and a salt system would cause it to rust out in a few years.
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