The indoor pool of the Drumheller Aquaplex was closed to the public due to a suspected leak which was discovered on Monday, July 10; although the indoor pool has been closed, the outdoor pool has remained open, weather dependent.

 Infrastructure Services director Dave Brett presented Town council with an update on the status of the Aquaplex during the regular Monday, July 24 council meeting and outlined several issues which have been discovered since the closure.

 “This is not going to be a fast repair,” Mr. Brett stated. “There is significant problem and we’ve hit a point where we can’t bandaid it anymore. This is going to take a bit of work to get this done in a way that is safe for the staff to actually function in there.”

  The initial issue was in the recirculation pump pit, which has a drywell design, where more than a foot of water was discovered in the structure.

 Upon further investigation it was discovered sediment sand and gravel, which is used for the pool filtration system, had buried the sump pumps for the recirculation pump pit. This has resulted in the sump pumps being blocked.

 Further to the blockage, the washed out sediment has created a void beneath the mechanical room floor. At this time it is estimated the void is at least 1.5 metres deep.

 The erosion of the sediment has also resulted in a lack of support for some buried piping, including the recirculation return pipe. This has resulted in a jam of the recirculation pump and hairnet strainer, which have both been removed. 

 However, Mr. Brett explained, until the pipe is properly supported, it is undetermined whether these can be reinstalled.

 Corrosion of the sanitary pipe was also discovered, though the full extend of the corrosion is not known at this time. 

 Along with these issues, Mr. Brett also noted there are some pre-existing safety concerns.

 The mechanical room is very congested and poses a challenge for most of the Aquaplex staff to work in. There is currently only one staff member who is capable of accessing certain areas of the mechanical room.

 Mr. Brett explained the next steps will be to complete a video inspection of the sanitary plumbing system in order to determine the full extent of the corrosion, and consultation with a structural engineer to develop repair options.

 He acknowledged the Aquaplex is a cornerstone of recreation for the Drumheller Valley and also serves the local Canadian Badlands Aquatic Club (CBAC), and the impacts the closure has had.

 Earlier, during the meeting, council had approved the Parks and Recreation Master Plan which outlined the Aquaplex as having an end of life of approximately 10 years, and Mr. Brett shared three options with council regarding potential next steps-permanent closure of the indoor pool with the outdoor pool open seasonally; repairs; or renovation of the Aquaplex.

 Repairs to address the void space, structural weaknesses, and the corroded piping would require the floor of the hallway and lobby, as well as the mechanical room, to be broken up to access necessary components for repair.

 At this time the full extent of repairs needed are unknown, and a very early estimate would put repairs at around $750,000.

 Mr. Brett stated this will not address the ongoing safety concerns of the mechanical room, and would not fully address some other issues which could pose the potential for the indoor pool to face “end of life events.”

 Renovations would help to expand the mechanical room and address space constraint issues, as well as relocate pumps and piping, and see the pump wells resized.

 Although this would help address some of the ongoing safety and reliability issues, this would use a significant portion of public funding for a facility which is nearing the end of its usable life cycle. Mr. Brett noted the full budget for renovation work is unknown at this time, but an early estimate would put the renovation between $1 to $2 million.

 He explained to build a full new aquatic recreation facility would cost some $30 million and could take several years to complete.

 Mr. Brett anticipates further investigations could be completed within a two week period, and a more fulsome estimate for both repair and renovations brought forward for council consideration at a future council meeting. 

By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 26, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Drumheller Mail   Drumheller, Alberta

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