Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center pool contaminates Waller Creek

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Late afternoon on March 1, Waller Creek was contaminated by a nearby facility. 

Preliminary site checks confirmed the detection of chlorine in the creek and the bleaching of nearby soil. The source of contamination has been traced back to a leakage from the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center’s main race pool. The pool is currently being drained and closed for use.

John Salsman, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the leak was serious enough for a swim meet to be moved to the next day,

“The pool leak was discovered when maintenance workers found water on the wall in the swim center’s basement,” Salsman said. “The pool was immediately closed.”

Salsman said chlorinated water is bad for the fish and vegetation at the creek.

 “Waller Creek is a wonderful natural resource for the city of Austin,” Salsman said. “It attracts wildlife and provides a nice aquatic environment. We want to make sure the people on campus can have a beautiful creek.”

Rhonda Weldon, director of communications of Financial and Administrative Services, unfortunately said the source of the leakage in the pool is still unidentified. Weldon said contractors are still assessing the situation.

“We need to find the source and the extent of the leak,” Weldon said. “Until then, we are still trying to determine how much pool water is pumped through sanitation and how much is going into the creek.”

Salsman said a team from Project Management and Construction Services is still searching for the leak source. 

Meanwhile, the pool will remain closed for swimmers like business freshman Angelia Wu.

“We ended up practicing in the diving well for the past few days,” Wu said. “It’s too small and the marking lines aren’t lined up in the middle. Practice was chaotic but at least we had somewhere to swim.”

Wu swims for Texas Longhorn Aquatics and said she is not too worried.

“We are wrapping up short course season so we are going to have a break before we start long course,” Wu said. “I don’t think we will have a problem as long as the pool isn’t closed for too long.”

Jennie Tai, Plan II and business freshman, competed at the pool for her Arena Pro Swim Series and said she hopes the pool will be fixed soon.

“The University has always put emphasis on caring for the environment so I really hope they take measures to take care of the leak,” Tai said.