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Newport pool closed after malfunction causes it to drain

Modified: Friday, Feb 15th, 2013

Newport municipal pool employees found the pool nearly empty when they arrived at 5:45 a.m. Friday morning. An equipment failure drained the water into the control room below the pool. City officials say the pool will likely be closed at least through early next week as repairs are made. (Photo by Larry Coonrod)

NEWPORT—City officials closed the Newport municipal pool Friday morning for an indeterminate amount of time as crews searched for what caused the pool to drain overnight.

“The pool is closed and we cannot provide this service to the community right now,” said Newport Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva.

Pool employees arriving to open the building at 5:45 a.m. Friday found the 180,000-gallon pool nearly empty. Protiva said a stopped wall clock indicates that whatever happened occurred about 4:10 a.m.

It appears the pneumatic drain valve opened, flooding the mechanical and electrical control room underneath the pool.

“We don’t know yet if an electrical failure caused a mechanical failure or a mechanical failure caused an electrical failure,” Protiva said.

Public works crews with portable pumps began draining the mechanical room shortly after being notified of the flooding. Workers used a dechlorinating chemical to treat the water before flushing it into a stormwater drain.

Newport fire fighters arrived on scene about 10:45 a.m. and used a fire engine’s pumping system to help drain the room at a rate of 1,200 gallons per minute.

Water from the flooded mechanical room flowed out of the building and down slope toward Jefferies Creek. Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross said workers placed dechlorinating tablets in the water flow. Testing showed the highest level of chlorine at .08 milligrams per liter, close to normal drinking water levels, said Kathy Cline, pool supervisor. Two Oregon State Police fish and wildlife troopers were onsite monitoring the situation, but it does not appear that any of the pool water reached Jefferies Creek.

Protiva, the parks supervisor, said once the mechanical room is drained, city personnel would try to determine what caused the problem and call in the contractors to fix it.

“With the three day weekend, I don’t think we’re going to be able to get any of the experts out here before Tuesday,” he said.

The pool serves more than 200 people on some days, including high school and club competitive swimmers. First opened in 1965, the deteriorating condition of the pool has become an increasing concern. In 2010, voters narrowly defeated a $6.6 million bond to construct a new multi-pool complex adjacent to the city’s recreation center.

“We have multiple concerns with the pool,” Protiva said. “One is the strength and conditions of the sides. The other is the rust and capacity of the pipes below the pool.”

Contact Assistant Editor Larry Coonrod at 541-265-8571 ext. 211 or email larry@newportnewstimes.com.

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