Analysis: City Acknowledges Civic Pool is Leaking Over 7000 Gallons a Day

Community Pool (photo of Civic Pool unavailable)

On Saturday, the Vanguard reported that the city’s Civic Pool has a substantial leak of over 7500 gallons a day. Given the drought and infrastructure concerns, this causes complications as the city council will be asked to sort out a potential spring 2015 parcel tax that may now have to be extended to cover pools in addition to roads.

In a report from CBS 13 in Sacramento, city officials acknowledge the leak, acknowledge that they have known about it for some time, and acknowledge that it is not just a simple fix.

City staffer Melissa Chaney told the news station, “It was a little bit more than normal evaporation, so that’s what brought it to our attention.”

The station reports, “City engineers agree with swim instructor Stu Hahn’s assessment that cracks in the pool’s skimmers are the reason for the lost water.”

“It’s not a single leak that they’ve identified,” he said. “It’s throughout the whole system.”

“Every time waves splash through, a little bit of water comes out but over the course of the day we use this pool 12 hours a day for swimming so there is a lot of waves and unfortunately there is a lot of loss,” he said.

They asked Melissa Chaney if the water soaking into the ground would damage the soil. She responded, “The water itself will not damage the soil underneath, it’s safe. We make our own chlorine from salt, so we don’t put out a high level of chlorine into the water.”

They note that the leak issue has been out of sight for some time, but with the drought, the issue is pushing to the forefront.

CBS 13 reported, “If the city just drains the pool, the structure could become compromised and leave the city with the decision to either close it permanently” or build a new pool.

CBS 13 does connect this issue to the larger budgetary issues facing the community. As we noted on Saturday, the city was able to pass a sales tax in June to cover current structural deficits, but most of that money will not go to infrastructure. Roads remains a priority, but increasingly pools are becoming part of the conversation.

Ken Petruzzelli of the Davis Aquatic Masters laid it out pretty well this week in his guest Vanguard piece. He wrote, “Framing discussion of Davis pools in terms of necessities versus luxuries creates a false dichotomy. Amenities such as pools are central to creating and maintaining community. Amenities make a city an attractive and enjoyable place to live. Given that people typically want to live where they work, civic amenities have never played a greater role in attracting businesses to a city and attracting talent to businesses.”

Do we want to live in a community that has to cut corners to survive? The B-modified street, sidewalk, bike path plan calls for us to ramp up spending to the point where we have an average PCI of about 63. In schoolyard terms, that means Davis’ roads would rate a D.

That does not include what it would take to repair our pools, maintain our parks, and fix our city buildings.

As Mr. Petruzzelli writes, “In the coming months, as Davis again discusses how to invest money in its civic infrastructure, we hope the public will consider how pools and other amenities enrich our community.”

That has to be part of our discussion, because right now, a $50 parcel tax would probably pass and a $100 or $150 parcel tax would likely fail. Right now, the polling shows a $100 parcel tax fails to get to two-thirds, clocking in with 58% support, the same of the sales tax measure, while a $150 parcel tax fails to even get a majority.

The Measure O campaign passed, but failed to lay groundwork for additional needs to close gaps in funding for infrastructure.

One thing is clear – the city has aging infrastructure. The cost assessments on Community Pool and Civic Pool will probably push the city and the council further in the direction of building new infrastructure rather than pumping in hundreds of thousands if not millions to shore up aging infrastructure.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Topcat

    I wonder what type of repair costs the City is looking at to repair the leaking skimmers? Perhaps someone who knows about pool construction and maintenance can give us an idea of how expensive a fix this would be.

  2. dlemongello

    The negligence here is severe. Does anyone in charge really get the extreme water situation we are in and is getting worse everyday. Maybe we will get rain this year, maybe we won’t. Crisis is what drives humans to act, what a sad species we are, so intelligent yet so stupid.
    Anyone here know about hydraulic mortar. Even slowing the leaks would be better than just pretending it’s OK. IT”S NOT OK.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      7,000 gallons a day seems hard to believe. Is some of that evaporation?

      Has anyone made a common sense patch in mid winter, when the pool is little used? Empty the thing, and use mortar or whatever is most appropriate. Analysis paralysis achieves nothing, unless some folks want the leak to help gather support for a new pool.

    1. John

      Ken, according to the Proposition 218 Notices we all received three weeks ago, there are 748 gallons in a ccc. That means 3,500 ccf per year. Do you really think there are greenbelts that use enough water that 3,500 ccf per year is by comparison “tiny”? Do you really think there are parks that use enough water that 3,500 ccf per year is by comparison “tiny”?

      According to the Rate Calculator on 5the City website that is $900 per month in water charges.

  3. Biddlin

    What is disturbing is the trend of municipal governments to “hide” these issues, instead of giving the public a clear picture of what differed maintenance really means, and costs. Now it is the pool, next what? Davis is certainly not alone in this predicament. Public buildings, parks and infrastructure, in some measure, inadequate and/or in disrepair before the recession, have sucked hind teat for too long.

  4. Jim Frame

    Civic Center’s leaks haven’t been hidden, they’ve just not risen to general attention. I was told about them several years ago in a conversation with a city staffer. It wasn’t “Here’s a dirty secret we’re trying to protect,” it was more like “The pool is old and leaky, and we’re going to have to fix it or close it once we figure out the long-range plan for Civic Center.” At that time Civic Center Park was slated to be sold for housing in order to raise funds for the Howat Ranch sports complex; the pool’s future may have been under review at that time. Now that the Civic Center housing plan has been postponed — indefinitely, near as I can tell — it may be time to do something about the pool one way or the other.

    1. John

      Jim, I overheard a discussion recently in which the idea of building a new all encompassing City Hall building on the southwest corner of 5th Street and Pole Line was discussed. The plan was to have the building house both the City Offices and the School District Offices, thereby releasing both the current City Hall and the current School District Administration Building, and possibly even the baseball field for infill housing covering as much as four city blocks (from A to C and from 5th to 7th). Have you heard anything about that?

        1. John

          — Doesn’t accommodate all the City Staff.

          — Was designed as a school, and the spaces are subdivided classrooms. Not exactly supportive of the current use by the current City staff.

          — Old building with high per square foot maintenance costs

          — Prime location for high density infill housing

          1. TrueBlueDevil

            New buildings cost a lot of money, this at a time when the city is bleeding funds and can’t repave roads. I’d say this falls under “like to have”, not a vital need.

            Is it a historic structure? I’m sure our modern architects can put something ugly there.

          2. John

            Maintenance of old buildings costs a lot of money at a time when the city is bleeding funds. The key question ends up being which is the better fiscal deal, the annual mortgage of the new building or the maintenance of the existing buildings.

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