COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — As families looked to beat this Texas heat and celebrate Father's Day all in one, options were limited in College Station. The city's two pools closed this weekend over a safety concern.
Initially, signs of cloudy water were detected at just one of the City of College Station's pools, but then the same issue was found at their other pool. Since the discovery, city staff have been working around the clock to find a solution to their visibility issue.
"This is our busiest time of the year, so this is beyond disheartening to me. The water is still chemically safe, but if lifeguards and parents can't see the bottom in some areas, we simply cannot allow that risk," College Station Parks Recreation Director Steve Wright said, according to the City of College Station's website Friday.
Kelly Kelbly, also with College Station Parks and Recreation, says when it comes to water chemistry, there are tons of variables, especially with the heat. Monday, the city started its diagnostic checklist trying to find the source of what was causing the change in its water.
"Ran through all the chemicals, which we test hourly, but was there something we were missing? Couldn't find anything. We called in a couple of consultants that know this pool. Every pool is different. Filtration checked out, chemicals, everything was absolutely on point, but what we saw as the week wore on, was that it was getting worse," Kelbly added.
Cloudy pools and a lack of clarity was a recipe for an unsafe environment, which Kelbly says they cannot have. The last thing they wanted to do was to drain the pools, but they had to.
"Because at that point we know we are down for a few days. Friday morning, we made the decision to drain refill re-balance Adamson Lagoon. We worked with College Station Water Services and College Station Fire, truly a team effort to get this thing back up as quickly and as efficiently as possible," Kelbly said.
Recognizing how important the pools are to the community, city staff all pitched in doing what they could, the cohesiveness leaving residents who are set to soon use the facility at ease.
"College Station is great. We feel comfortable. Seems like they are always looking out for us. Just a great community," Jake Dent a BCS resident said.
The Dent family didn't have swimming in a College station pool part of their Father's Day weekend plans, instead, they went to a nearby splash pad, but they are signed up for swimming lessons at one of the city's pools Monday.
"I have twins turning 5 in August and I have a 3-year-old daughter as well, I still want them to wear the floaties. They are going to learn this week so we will see how that goes," Dent added.
"We are committed to our programs. We are committed to our facilities, especially our aquatics programs in the summer. Not being able to open last year due to COVID broke a small part of all of us," Kelbly said.
Kelbly says that's why it took them until Friday to make a decision, they wanted to rule out every possibility before draining the water.
"Because at that point we knew we were down 3 days but we got there ultimately, unfortunately, but our hope is we are open Monday morning," she added.
Kelbly also commended the city's public communications team with making sure there was a consistent message sent out to the public. "Because the last thing we would want is the inconvenience of people loading up and heading to the pool for the day. We are trying to eliminate that as much a possible," she added.
She also adds that in the height of June and July, they average 600-800 pool users a day, not all at the same time, but throughout the day.
Kelbly says they have seen clarity issues before, but nothing that has persisted as long as this recent instance.
"I don't like a mystery at all, but at this point, we still don't have a definitive answer on what caused the clarity issues, so we are hoping that what we have done is really the best method and that by tomorrow morning we are perfect and we have got everyone back in the water," she added.
City staff says the status of each pool for Monday will be posted on the city's Facebook page. You can also find more information at cstv.gov/pools.
As of Sunday afternoon, from the City's Facebook Page:
"Water visibility has been restored at Adamson Lagoon and Cindy Hallaran Pool; however, conditions will be reexamined early Monday morning, June 21, to determine the status of program and general swim. Before heading out, please check https://cstx.gov/pools or the city's Facebook and Twitter accounts."
The City announced via Facebook Monday morning Adamson Lagoon and Cindy Hallaran Pool were open Monday for programs and general swim, but conditions could still change. They encourage monitoring the city's social pages before heading out to the pool.