The Fennimore Municipal Pool’s intermediate pool will be closed for the 2014 season, the Fennimore Common Council learned Tuesday, May 27.
Director of Public Works Dennis Biddick wrote in a memo to the Council the intermediate pool is suffering from a significant leak in its supply line. In addition, a state inspection last year indicated the pool was severely low in chlorine levels.
“This pool cannot be used again in its present condition,” Biddick wrote. “The existing water line simply cannot supply enough chlorinated water to the pool to create safe chlorine levels to properly disinfect the pool.
“The intermediate pool must be closed, repaired or replaced.”
Mayor Charles Stenner told an audience of over a half-dozen Fennimore residents the intermediate pool will need to be excavated to correct the problem.
“It all has to be torn up, there is no way around it,” he said. “There are several different things we can look at as far as completing replacing the middle pool with something larger or better, or we can go in and replace that one pipe but it might be only a year fix before something else goes wrong with another pipe.”
Paula Sheckler asked how long the Council knew of the issues relating to the intermediate pool.
“We knew that we weren’t getting the correct chlorine levels in the pool,” Stenner said. “We have been chasing this leak for some time. Now we feel we have it narrowed to exactly what it is. We lose thousands of gallons of water a day because of it.”
The Council learned last June the Municipal Pool was leaking approximately 17,000 to 20,000 gallons of water each day. The leak came to light after the pool was filled in May 2013.
Last fall, a broken valve in the main drain piping of the large pool was identified and replaced. The pool then passed one test, but failed a second.
Biddick, who was unable to attend the May 27 meeting, spoke with the Fennimore Times Monday night and addressed why the leak proved to be so elusive.
“It was so hard to determine because in the two pools, the piping is hooked together,” he said. “The valves are faulty and we couldn’t isolate it. That is why when we thought we had valves isolating that big pool, we were still having water loss.
“The valves were faulty and it was circumventing the valves. The water was actually going through the piping in the large pool, then going back into the piping in the intermediate pool and we were losing it out there.”
Amanda Jahnke, who attended the May 27 meeting, served as a lifeguard at the Fennimore Municipal Pool for six years.
“It has leaked ever since I lifeguarded back in 2002,” she said. “You can increase the chlorine levels between sessions to keep it up.”
Unfortunately, the solution is not that easy.
“The pipe that is leaking is the one that supplies the freshly chlorinated water back to the pool,” Biddick explained. “There is no means to get a proper level of chlorine to the pool.”
Stenner told the audience he and the Council are aware of the inconvenience the closure of the intermediate pool will cause, but to address the problem correctly, the pool needs to be closed.
“It is just sad,” Sheckler said. “Our residents should just go to Lancaster or Boscobel if they want children to swim and spend their dollars there then.”
“We don’t like it any more than you do,” Stenner said. “There is nothing more that we can do.”
The Council’s Cemetery, Public Buildings, Property and Recreation Committee is scheduled to discuss the matter further on Monday, June 9. The Electric, Water and Sewer Committee will meet at 5:45 p.m., with the Cemetery, Public Buildings, Property and Recreation Committee meeting to immediately follow. The Electric, Water and Sewer Committee meeting is expected to be 20 to 30 minutes long.
In preparation for the 2014 pool season, the intermediate pool will be isolated from the large pool.
“We will have to actually cut pipes because the valves are so old and they are failed,” Biddick said. “We are going to have to cut a pipe and plug it to kill the piping to the middle pool.”
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend Section 7.03(8) of the Municipal Code relating to an increase in sewer rates.
The Council approved an increase of $1.50 per month in the base rate and 50 cents per 1,000 gallons of volume on May 15.
A sewer rate increase requires the adoption of an ordinance. Last Tuesday’s action clears the way for the increase to be implemented as of June 15, meaning customers will realize the increase on their Aug. 1 utility bill.
The Electric, Water and Sewer Utilities Committee discussed the need for the increase during a meeting Tuesday, May 6.
City Clerk/Treasurer Margaret Sprague shared proposed 2014 electric, water and sewer department budgets with Committee members.
While the electric department is projected to enjoy a net income of $158,245 and the water department a net income of $88,172, the sewer department’s net income is projected to be only $25,842.
Sewer rates last increased Dec. 15, 2008.
Fennimore Municipal Utilities are presently subject to a base charge of $13.82 per month for a 5/8-inch water meter or 3/4-inch water meter. The volume charge is $4.33 per 1,000 gallons.
A $1.50 per month increase in the base rate for the Utilities’ 1,175 customers would generate $21,186 in revenue. An increase in the volume charge of 50 cents per 1,000 gallons, assuming 57,622 gallons are used citywide, would generate $28,811 in revenue.
Sprague offered an analysis indicating an average customer would experience an increase of $3.50 per month in the sewer portion of their utility bill. An average customer utilizes 4,000 gallons, resulting in a $2 increase (50 cents for each 1,000 gallons), plus the $1.50 per month base charge increase.
In other action, the Council:
• approved a request by the Fennimore Fun Fest committee to close LaFollette Street in conjunction with Fennimore Fun Fest 2014. LaFollette Street will be closed from Bronson Boulevard to Stitzer Road on June 7 from 3-8 p.m. In addition, Dodge and Dewey streets will be closed from 5-8 p.m.
• approved three re-appointments to the Dwight T. Parker Public Library Board. Members are appointed to three-year terms.
Catrice Hunt will finish her first term this month and has agreed to serve a second term of three years. Judy Nelson will complete Darlene Welch’s term and has agreed to serve a full term. Don Ready will complete Bill Urban’s term and has also agreed to serve a full term.
• approved the hiring of additional summer employees. Austin Fifrick will work at the wastewater treatment plant and Beth Zoromski will return as a lifeguard at the Fennimore Municipal Pool.
Praise for Prairie Cemetery
As the meeting came to a close, Council President David Streif offered praise for Charles Weist, Sr., and his work as caretaker at Prairie Cemetery.
“I visited several cemeteries over Memorial Day weekend with my mom,” Streif said. “There isn’t one of them that comes close to Fennimore.
“Chuck does a fantastic job and does a fantastic job all summer long.”