Hays pools plan summer openings
By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Seasonal passes for Hays pools went on sale today, as Hays Recreation Commission officials keep a watchful eye on the city's water-warning status.
Grant Lacy, aquatics director for HRC, said $35 is the early-bird special until May 23. The regular price is $40, and no family packages are offered. Hays Aquatic Park opens May 24, and Wilson Pool will open May 31.
Filling pools would be banned if the drought worsens and the Hays City Commission declares a water emergency, according to the city's drought-response plan.
Although a water emergency is not anticipated this year, discussions are underway about a possible discount or prorated deal if necessary, Lacy said. He hopes the recent cool weather does not extend into the summer.
"This is Kansas. We have ups and downs in the springtime," Lacy said. "I can't predict the weather, what the weather's going to be for the summer. But we hope for a hot summer, and we hope for a lot of rain so we can get out of this water warning."
The pools, which did not leak last year, lose water through evaporation and water splashing out, Lacy said. A minimal amount of water is used to clean the sand filters used to clean water circulating in the pools. The HRC also conserves water through limited irrigation of landscaping. At the end of last season, it recycled Wilson Pool's water for irrigation throughout the city.
The pools are an "important resource" and give opportunities to pool users and employees, Lacy said. The pools drew 50,010 patrons in 2013 and 64,084 swimmers in 2012, according to data from the HRC.
Hays Aquatic Park, which requires approximately 1.1 million gallons of water to fill, used a total of 3.2 million gallons of water in 2013, said Jeff Boyle, Hays parks director. Wilson Pool takes 145,860 gallons to fill and used a total of 258,808 gallons in 2013.
Pools have not been filled yet, and they will follow the rules for outdoor water use established by the city commission, Boyle said.
Paul Briseno, Hays assistant city manager, said the water warning was a proactive step because estimates predicted it would be necessary this summer. City officials wanted to alert residents before they planned landscape projects.
Both public and private pools can be filled this season, he said.
"We're still allowing the use of irrigation. So, therefore, you should still allow people to utilize the pools," he said. "The reality is, a residential pool, we've done the calculations, and the pool uses about the same amount, maybe less, than a normal yard throughout the entire summer."
Briseno encouraged pool owners to use pool covers to reduce evaporation.
Wilson Pool will close Aug. 10, and the aquatic park is set to shut down Aug. 13.