• Graphic by Tim Bobko

    Credit: TIM BOBKO

 

We were preparing our city pools to open for the season with the usual anticipation. The schools in our area had extended their year until later in June and I thought it would be a great idea to make swimming available for the kids during the afternoons and evenings. These special hours would only be for a few days.

Jay, our maintenance supervisor, filled the main pool and told me it had a leak. The grass behind the diving area was sopping wet and we were concerned that there was a break in the pipes underground. Eight days to opening — we will be fine, I told myself. We called in a specialist who said our hydrostatic relief valves could be bad and causing a leak. He suggested bringing in the dive team from the fire department to check the valves out and see if they needed to be replaced.

We purchased new valves and called the fire department. However, they said the suction would be too great to replace the valve with water in the pool and we would need to drain it. Two days to drain and two days to fill — we will be OK, I assured myself. The water was drained, the valves replaced (one was bad) and we refilled the pool. I sent flyers to all the schools reminding them about our evening swims. 

The next day, Jay told me that the pool was still leaking and he thought there was a break in the pipes under the deck. He was going to have to drain the pool to repair the leak. Trying not to panic, I reassured myself that we could still open on time. Jay pumped out the water again, and we found the broken pipe, which thankfully was under the grass so we didn't have to dig up the deck.

Two days to fill the pool and treat the water wasn't going to be enough time. We would miss our deadline. That was when I got the idea to fill the pool using a nearby fire hydrant. Jay was very hesitant, but I pushed him to enact my plan so we could open on schedule.

We closed the street and started filling the pool from the hydrant. The water poured out dark green, and as soon as I saw it I got a bad feeling. I told myself that a little chlorine would clear up the problem. But the next day, the pool was still a sickly green. Jay, who was completely disgusted with me, said we had to drain it again.

This time, when the pool was emptied, there were rust stains all over the floor. We had to scrub them off and then refill the pool for the third time in 12 days.

Our wonderful opening was postponed, and my big after-school swims were a bust.

The only good thing was the weather. An unexpected cold front came through, leaving temperatures too low for swimming  until we were able to open.