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Williams News | Williams, Arizona

home : latest news : local August 1, 2014


4/15/2014 10:21:00 AM
City pool to open despite water crisis

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


WILLIAMS, Ariz. —Williams residents will still be able to go swimming this summer, after the City Council unanimously voted April 10 to open the Williams Aquatic Center in the midst of the city’s water crisis, calling the pool a public benefit.

After an unusually dry winter, the city’s highest level of water restrictions went into effect Feb. 25 and prohibit people from using potable water for irrigation or any reason other than for public health or emergency reasons. The restrictions also prohibit people from refilling swimming pools.

Recreation Director Rose Newbold outlined the Aquatic Center’s water usage in a report to the mayor and council.

From October through April, the pool is in hibernation mode. Generally the pool requires 4,000 gallons of water per month during this time. However, staff has recently been able to reduce this usage to 1,000 gallons per month—just enough to prevent the media in the filter from solidifying.

From June through August when the pool is open, the Aquatic Center uses about 54,000 gallons of water per month. Of that amount, about 8,000 gallons are used for refilling the pool while 46,000 gallons are used for disinfection/sanitization, showers and toilets.

The 8,000 gallons of water per month for refilling the pool, which amounts to 32,000 gallons for the season, can be hauled in from outside sources so as not to use the city’s water supply.

“That’s the same situation that any other private pool owners like the hotels are in as well,” said City Manager Brandon Buchanan. “They have to haul water.”

The remaining 46,000 gallons of water per month used for other purposes, which totals 158,000 gallons for the season, cannot be hauled in to bypass the city water supply.

“That would fall under we’re allowed to continue using water just like businesses are or residences are for hygiene purposes,” Buchanan said. “And showers and the basic washing down of the pool deck for those same purposes would fall under that and be allowed by it.”

Newbold described the two possible options in her staff report: opening the pool or keeping it in hibernation mode during the summer.

Opening the pool and hauling in the estimated 32,000 gallons of refill water for the season would cost the city an additional $2,000. The actual amount of water needed will depend on how many incidents occur at the pool that would require water replacement. Newbold said the pool typically has five to six of those incidents per year.

“I actually kind of did this estimation a little bit high for what we’re considering tonight,” she said. “The refilling of the pool water, the way the system works, we can haul water into that circulation system which deals with the water that’s dissipated by swimmers and if we have an incident in the pool that we have to extract water and do a super chlorination.”

Keeping the pool in hibernation mode would require the existing water usage of about 1,000 gallons per month. Not opening the pool would save $26,000 in payroll reductions and $10,000 in operating cost reductions. However, keeping the pool closed would also mean an estimated $20,000 loss of income.

In a letter to the mayor and council, Newbold said she believed staff could reduce water usage at the pool by one-third by implementing conservation measures.

The first was to seal the pool deck to allow for disinfection/sanitization with the least amount of water, which would cost about $800.

The second was to switch to low flow showerheads and adjust the fixtures to have automatic shut off valves, which may come from a donation from the Friends of the Williams Aquatic Center.

Next, staff would supervise the locker rooms whenever possible and verbally remind patrons to comply with water conservation measures.

Finally staff would install signs describing the level four water restrictions and asking for patrons to comply with them.

“At this point we just wanted an answer with the council if you are willing to support the amount of water that’s going to be needed to do that sanitation,” Newbold said. “We’re willing as the team to manipulate that automated system and make it into manual water hauling. Everything looks like it should work in that manner. We’ve never manipulated the system in that manner, so it would be a hoping for the best scenario.”

On average 83 people used the pool each day during the 2013 season for a grand total of 5,914 users for the summer.

The public uses the pool for swimming lessons, water aerobics and laps. Groups also use the pool on a regular basis during the summer, including the Summer Rec Program and Camp Civitan.

Councilman Don Dent said he favored keeping the pool open.

“I know as a council we’ve all heard a few criticisms for watering the Little League fields and taking care of the ball fields, but this is almost the same case,” he said. “That’s a public good, it’s for our children, it’s something I think we need to continue to support.”


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Bell Alston

This is wonderful! I grew up in a swimming pool! It gives our future something to do during the summer. Should be open in the winter too.

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014
Article comment by: dear harriet

They don't use water from the "lakes". They may use water from Cataract, but who cares? According to a article a few weeks ago, the City hasn't ever used water from Cataract for drinking water anyway. HaHaHa yeah right.. Don't worry though Harriet, the golf course hasn't brought in nearly as much money for the City as the pool has. They should of course just let it wither away. Probably shouldn't use any effluent water either.

There is so much misinformation in this little rumor ville called Williams.


Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Article comment by: Call me Skeptical

Harriett, do you have any proof of this? All reports have said the golf course is watered using reclaimed water, and it certainly smells like it is. Please don't spread misinformation.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: harriet lockwood

Do you know that the city is watering the golf course off of the Lakes here by williams. that could be our drinking water.The pump for second hand water that come from the sewer plant has been broken for two or three years. The city have to keep the ground green and also at the basefield which is water so I fell we have the right to have a pool here in williams.

Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014
Article comment by: Tax Payer

John - you miss the point...less then 5% of the williams taxpayer population use the pool....subsidized by the 95%. That doesn't make since for some that is not essential for the town...like police, roades etc

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014
Article comment by: John Conner

To Tax Payer,
Sorry but your logic doesn't fly. If we go that route then only parents of school age children will pay for the school each year, only citizens that walk or drive downtown will pay for snow removal, and we'll charge every driver coming into Williams to pay for pothole repairs. The pool is just one small part of the Williams budget and is vital for thousands of users especially young people just learning to swim. It should be open year round as a great place for exercise and kids programs. Please grow up a little and accept some civic responsibility.


Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014
Article comment by: John Conner

To Tax Payer,
Sorry but your logic doesn't fly. If we go that route then only parents of school age children will pay for the school each year, only citizens that walk or drive downtown will pay for snow removal, and we'll charge every driver coming into Williams to pay for pothole repairs. The pool is just one small part of the Williams budget and is vital for thousands of users especially young people just learning to swim. It should be open year round as a great place for exercise and kids programs. Please grow up a little and accept some civic responsibility.


Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Article comment by: Tax Payer

Individuals who use the pool should pay for the water needed to run it. The rest of us shouldn't have to subsidize it



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