ERBM district board hears updates on significant pool leak

RBC | ERBM Executive Director Sean VonRoenn’s presentation to the district’s Board of Directors on Oct. 20 included the latest on “a significant amount” of water leaking from the Meeker Rec Center Lap Pool.

A memo distributed at the meeting detailed information about the leak including a timeline of when water loss was first noted and what actions have been taken since.

Indications of the leak include the pool’s auto-fill valve operating more frequently than normal, “water penetrating the cement wall in the pump pit” and dramatic increases in the Rec Center’s water statements from the Town of Meeker. Staff noticed unusual increases in water statements coming from the Town of Meeker in June, July and August. The Rec Center’s Water Bill increased from $1665 in August to $3063 in September. For comparison, the Rec Center’s water bill in September 2019 was $1,193.

According to the memo distributed to the Board of Directors, employees first noticed a loss of water in the lap pool as early as January 2020. Nothing else relating to the leak is noted until March.

Due to mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns, the Center’s pools were drained and closed for the months of March-May. Upon re-filling the pools before a Memorial Day reopening, the memo states that “water loss and leaks in the pump pit increased.” Along with some other “unrelated leaks.” In addition it states that the auto-fill valve was operating “even more frequently.” The pool remained open until September when it was again drained during installation of a new roof on the building. At this point ERBM contracted American Leak Detection to conduct leak detection testing on Sept. 1 and Sept. 21, but their results were inconclusive. On Sept. 28 another contractor, Action Services, was called to perform “push camera inspections” of piping systems. The results of these tests were also inconclusive.

On Oct. 5 ERBM contracted with R&R Aquatics for a third look. R&R concluded after more extensive evaluations that the leak was likely a result of 150 feet of linear fracturing across the pool’s surface, including “a significant wall-to-wall crack near the five foot mark.”

Maintenance staff then proceeded at the recommendation of R&R to test the theory by plugging all supply and suction ports, then filling the pool. The memo states, “We conducted the test and discovered that the leaks are indeed in the surface fractures.”

During the monthly board of directors meeting, VonRoenn explained that the next step was to hire R&R Aquatics to do some initial crack repair, not to exceed $5,000, as a stop-gap to get the pool operational. In 2021 the Rec District has budgeted $75,000 for a full resurface of the lap pool, a project VonRoenn says had been on the radar for a few years but “had been put off.”

During ERBM’s board meeting there was some confusion as to the actual cause of the leak, or more specifically, whether or not the surface fracturing was the sole source of the leakage. VonRoen stated, “We were very skeptical that this could be coming from the surface cracks because these are very minor. I’ve been in a lot of pools and seen cracks, and these do not look like cracks that would leak.”

When asked whether the plumbing itself had been ruled out as the source of problem, Parks & Facilities manager Rodney Gerloff was hesitant to give a definitive answer, he said, “I’m not gonna give you 100% percent on that,” elaborating that “[The] next project when they [R&R] come back is to remove the plugs systematically, to double check and make sure the pump is good.”

Given the significant amount of water leaking from the lap pool since at least January, several directors on the board expressed concern about potential structural integrity issues with area soils. VonRoenn responded by saying, “We talked about that as a possibility … when we talked about it with the contractor it’s likely not an issue.”

In response to HT questions about the timeline of the leak and what actions had been taken to resolve the matter, VonRoenn said they would “present a more detailed report on this pool leak and proposed final repairs at our next meeting on Nov. 17, including a site walk at the pool.” He added, “There is currently no significant leaking in the lap pool as several improvements have been affected that allow normal operations to continue unimpeded.”

The rest of the agenda mainly revolved around financials and a public hearing presentation of the board’s 2021 proposed budget. The Rec District is proposing an 8% decrease in expenditures at $4,376,500. They are projecting a 16% decrease in revenues at $3,253,00. Overall the 2021 budget has a fund deficit of $1,141,500.

The proposed budget includes $553K in Capital Improvement Projects, the most significant of which is up to $300K for technology improvements, mainly for fiber internet installations, as well as the Circle Park Pond project. To date expenditures on the project are $218,704. The district is budgeting an additional $153,737 to complete phases 1 and 2. They are pursuing various grants as a way to help fund the project. VonRoenn concluded the public hearing with a reminder that copies of the proposed 2021 budget are available at guest services, and that the board is scheduled to adopt the budget on Monday, Dec. 14.

In regular business, directors heard and approved quarterly financial reports, which contained information about the completion of the roof replacement and the project coming in under budget despite being completed somewhat behind schedule. The final payment for the leisure pool builder has been paid, and investments earnings are still coming in, but tapering off. The board reviewed a financial report from the Meeker Golf Association which is “slightly in the red.” Directors also expect to hear from the Lions Club soon about funding for the Admin Building playground project.

VonRoenn also presented a “systematic evaluation document” that contains behind-the-scenes operational information, compiled documentation on district policies and procedures, etc.

Finally the board approved resolution 2020-07 to Amend Employee Handbook Regarding Part-Time Employee Injury and Illness Leave; Employee Supplemental Leave During a Public Health Emergency. Per state requirements, the resolution gives all part-time staff the same sick leave benefits as full-time employees. Part-time workers can now accrue one hour or paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, to a maximum of 48 hours of minor injury/illness leave per calendar year.