Local News

Drought Puts Wake Forest Pool in Jeopardy

Posted March 21, 2008 4:06 p.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT

— The only public pool in town could remain empty this summer if drought conditions don't ease in the next month, officials said Friday.

Wake Forest commissioners said they would decide by May 1 whether to keep the Holding Park pool closed for the summer in an effort to conserve water during the drought.

"This is not a decision we approached happily nor with a smile on our faces," Commissioner Peter Thibodeau said.

Built in the 1940s, the 50-meter pool holds 245,000 gallons, and commissioners said they couldn't see filling it – and adding about 6,000 gallons a day to it to keep it full – when the region continues to see extreme drought conditions.

Water restrictions put in place last month by Raleigh – Wake Forest is part of Raleigh's municipal water system – prevent the use of city water for filling pools that had been drained for the winter. Raleigh has decided to use water recaptured after flushing mains and hydrants to fill three pools, but Wake Forest Commissioner Margaret Stinnett said that wouldn't work for Holding Pool.

"(Where are we going to) find someone that's going to flush 245,000 gallons of water to fill this pool?" Stinnett asked.

The pool usually opens at the beginning of June and closes at the end of August. Commissioners said it wouldn't be cost-effective to operate it only part of the season, which is why they've set a May 1 deadline to decide whether to open it this summer.

The prospect of a summer without outdoor swimming has upset some local residents.

"There are just too many families that don't have other options available to them," Jessica Willson said.

"I feel it's a shame, and maybe they should try other ways (to fill it)," Lynda DiFrancesco said.

Commissioner Frank Drake said he and his colleagues hope Mother Nature will intervene in the coming weeks and make their decision easier.

"(Summer at the pool is) really hopping. This whole paved area is covered with kids," Drake said.