By Carlos Morales
It’s been just over 2 months since the historic pool at Balmorhea State Park re-opened, after a period of extensive repair to a damaged pool wall. But now the spring-fed swimming hole has closed once again, and park officials aren’t sure for how long.
In preparation for their annual pool cleaning, park staff say they discovered the pool’s drain gate had become “inoperable.” The park first made the problem known in a Facebook post on May 3, writing the broken gate poses a danger to swimmers and divers.
It’s unclear how long the park’s pool will be closed or how much money repairs will cost the state.
“A lot of those details are still being figured out,” said Stephanie Garcia, a spokesperson for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “Because we want to make sure what the extent of that damage is to that release gate, and then what would be the best solution.”
Because the gate is damaged, the park was unable to drain the pool and canceled its annual cleaning. It will most likely take place once repairs are completed.
The fresh water swimming hole was closed from May 2018 through February 2019, while contractors made $2 million worth of repairs to the pool. During last year’s cleaning, park staff found “structural damage” to the pool’s wall. A third-party study determined years of erosion caused the damage. Houston-based Apache Corp. donated $1 million toward the repairs and created an endowment to fund future repairs at the far West Texas park.
Back in March, as the pool reopened, park officials said the pool would most likely shut down again in the fall in order to address other maintenance issues, previously known to park staff. That includes an overhaul to the park’s entire septic system — something Balmorhea State Park superintendent Carolyn Rose believed would have delayed the pool’s initial reopening.
However, Rose said TPWD allowed the pool to open without the repairs.
This means after the water drainage gate is repaired, the pool will likely close again to fix the park’s septic problems.