UT pool will remain closed for weeks after 40-year-old pipe leaks

UT pool construction after leak (KXAN Photo)
UT pool construction after leak (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One month later and a University of Texas at Austin pool that was leaking water into Waller Creek is still closed. Project managers say it won’t open for weeks, but they’re aiming to have their project finished by late May.

“We are actually 4 to 5 feet below the floor of the pool,” Mike Carmangola, director of UT Project Management and Construction Services says. He gave KXAN crews a tour of the maintenance area underneath the pool, it almost serves as a basement where crews work. It’s where project managers say the water leak began.

“Under the pool there’s a piping system that takes water out of the filters and brings it back in through a supply on the top and then any water that is released from evaporation, splashing that kind of thing gets replenished,” Carmangola says. “Water was leaking from the broken pipe, and water was leaking into the ground.”

Some of the water made its way into Waller Creek.

“We decided there’s no reason to keep putting water back into the pool essentially it was leaking out underground into the ground under the pool,” Carmangola says.

The old piping system that caused the leak is behind a concrete wall, underneath the pool. Project managers say they would have to tear up the pool to get to the pipe, which is expensive and would leave the pool closed for months. They have found a cheaper and quicker alternative.

“Right now, they’re working on plugging up the existing holes at the bottom of the pool and drilling the new holes in the side wall and eventually will have the new piping system,” Carmangola said. “The new piping system is going to ring all the way around the outside, so all of the piping will be exposed. [If there’s any new problems] maybe there’s a little leak, [we will] pretty much be able to visually see that happening underground which we couldn’t really see [before].”

The total cost is expected to ring in at about $400,000, an expense that was not in the budget. Half of the cost to install the new piping system and fix the pool will be paid by the swim center budget and half by general funds out of the University’s annual maintenance allocation.

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