Claremont Pool Leak Test Inconclusive
Claremont — A firm that was hired by the city to test the outdoor pool to determine the extent of its leaking concluded it couldn’t determine how much water the pool is losing, city councilors were told Wednesday night.
But Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hausler, in a presentation to the City Council, said last week’s test by a firm hired to assess the condition of the pool was able to determine that the water was not leaking from the main drain or return line, leaving the firm to conclude it was in the gutter system, as Hausler’s department told the council last year.
“It could be no other place,” said Hausler during a break in the council meeting. “When the filter is not running, the pool stays full. Based on what they saw, it was enough information to say the leaks were in the gutter.”
The City Council will wait until the firm — Boston-based Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype — submits its final report Oct. 16 before deciding what to do with the pool, which has been closed since the end of the 2011 season.
The firm wrote in the preliminary report that a pressure test to definitely show the gutter system is the culprit, would be difficult but could be done.
“But if the tube fails to hold air under pressure it would be difficult if not impossible to identify the location(s) of each breach,” the report said.
In order to inspect the pressure tube in the system, portions of the pool and concrete deck would have to be removed — an extremely costly process, said Hausler. Replacing the gutter would cost $255,000, according to previous estimates received by the city.
“It is not practical to repair the gutter system,” Hausler told the council.
But the report did not satisfy resident Jeff Barrette, who has challenged the city’s assertion that 5 million gallons of pool water was lost over 10 weeks in the summer of 2011.
“It is pretty inconclusive where the water loss is coming from,” said Barrette, a member of the committee that selected BH+A.
He also said he was frustrated by the process because he was notified at 3:15 p.m. the day before the test was scheduled for 10:15 the next morning (Oct. 4), adding that he arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule and was the last person there. “It does not seem inclusive to me.”
Councilors Nick Koloski and Victor Bergeron both said it was understood that Barrette was to be involved from the very beginning in the inspection and it was not fair to notify him only the day before it was scheduled to occur.
“If you are meeting a half hour before he got there, it seems shady,” said Bergeron.
At one point during the discussion, Hausler took offense to implications that leaks are not as bad as his department reported.
“The meter doesn’t lie. It is valid,” he said.
As to suggestions that his department isn’t telling the truth, Hausler said, “we are not lying.
“We have no reason to make things look different than what they are. I take that as a personal and professional attack on the character of the department.”
Koloski was disappointed because he thought the report would definitively show where the leaks were occurring and how much the water the pool was losing.
“That was the first question and it is still where we are at,” he said.
Though councilors believe they have an obligation to complete the work even though it will cost another $17,000 to prepare the final report with details on the repairs, one resident saw it differently.
“Taxpayers can’t afford this,” said Steve Raymond. “I don’t know what it will take to get it through their heads. Why can’t we let something go.”
But the council said to stop now would make things worse.
“If we don’t finish this, there will be accusations we are hiding something,” said councilor Roger Formidoni.
Councilor John Simonds said it is a “passionate” issue for many people.
Besides the gutter system, a new filtration system is needed as are repairs to the bathhouse.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at email@example.com.