UT pool closes after leaking chlorinated water into Waller Creek

UT swim center pool (KXAN Photo)
UT swim center pool (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A pool at the Texas Swimming Center has been leaking water into nearby Waller Creek, the University of Texas at Austin said Thursday.

Officials with the university say they found out about the leak early Wednesday, after swim center personnel found water down in the basement, running along what would be the side of the pool.

Personnel knew the water there was unusual and soon realized there was a leak.

“If it is a broken pipe, I think it’s probably more underneath the pool where that broken pipe is, but again they still have not determine the ultimate cause of the leak,” John Salsman, the UT director of Environmental Health and Safety says.

It’s unclear how many gallons of chlorinated water leaked into Waller Creek, but they say any remaining water that is leaking has been dechlorinated.

The university notified the city of Austin Watershed Protection Department along with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who both agree there was no significant impact to any living organisms.

“We did not observe any fish that were dead, or in distress, and it doesn’t appear that it [caused] harm to any of the aquatic vegetation in the area,” Salsman said.

The third unintentional spill into Waller Creek in 6 months

UT is just months away from its first ever Facilities Master Plan. It will lay out road maps of UT’s building infrastructure above and below ground, meant to help maintain existing systems and to warn construction managers where the old pipes are when future buildings go up.

Twenty miles of sewage and storm water pipes snake their way under UT’s sprawling campus. Campus facilities bosses say they use cameras to find cracks in aging pipes. Because the checks are so regular, campus environmental bosses don’t believe there is an infrastructure problem in the campus’ oldest buildings.

Within three months, the $1 million facilities plan will be complete. The plan would have been helpful last September after crews found a sewage pipe at the old Engineering School had mistakenly been coupled to a storm water drain.

Sewage spilled into Waller Creek for two years. Last month, 300 gallons of sewage spilled into the creek after a line outside San Jacinto Hall overflowed out of a manhole. Thursday’s announcement makes the incident the third unintentional spill into the creek in six months.

Environmental Health and Safety managers admit they’re disappointed but call each incident unique and most importantly – rare.

The facilities master plan will be kept private to avoid sharing the specifics of campus infrastructure with someone who might want to do harm.

It’s expected to be finalized by June. However, you can check out UT’s plans for future growth here. 

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