Your summer made: Balmorhea State Park Pool reopens after concrete repairs
BALMORHEA, Texas – Balmorhea State Park’s San Solomon Springs pool has reopened to the public in time for swimming season following several months of restoration work, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department announced Friday.
The pool was closed last May after damage to the concrete apron under the diving board was discovered during the pool’s annual cleaning.
“We are thrilled to have the pool at Balmorhea open once again. The pool is a natural wonder that is enjoyed by visitors far and wide,” said Rodney Franklin, Director of Texas State Parks. “This renowned desert oasis is not only important for our West Texas community but for all of Texas. The work done during this project will help preserve this unique aquatic habitat for generations of Texans to enjoy.”
The extensive repair project included the creation of cofferdams, salvaging of the historic diving board and brick around the pool edge and demolition of concrete around the diving board area.
In addition, the existing distressed wall and backfill was removed, a new footing foundation was installed, backfill was replaced and a new wall was constructed. The cofferdams were constructed in the pool to ensure the protection of the endangered species and maintain water flow in the canals and cienegas throughout construction.
Texas Parks and Wildlife noted that due to the cultural sensitivity of the site and the presence of endangered species, no heavy equipment was used during construction.
After initial evaluations from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff, the project was estimated to cost $2 million. Apache Corporation partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to help fund the repairs to the spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park. The fundraising effort was jump-started with a $1 million challenge grant announced by TPWF and Apache in August 2018. Apache pledged to match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Donations poured in, and by Jan. 17, more than $1 million had been raised.
Texas Parks and Wildlife said more than 575 donations were received from all corners of the state, with 60 percent of the donations under $100. Several Texas companies made significant contributions, including Texas Pacific Land Trust, Saulsbury Industries, McCoy Remme Ranches, Legend Energy Services, Pioneer Energy Services, and Garrison Brothers Distillery.
In addition to their initial $1 million match effort, Apache Corporation contributed a $1 million endowment to benefit Balmorhea State Park in perpetuity.
“The overwhelming response from Texas citizens and companies who chipped in demonstrates just how much people love this iconic West Texas oasis,” TPWF Executive Director Anne Brown said
This project is only one of the three major developments at Balmorhea State Park. Renovations to the San Solomon Springs Courts and campgrounds continue and overnight facilities at the park will not be available until later this summer. Ongoing repairs to the septic system will require that extra measures be taken to limit water use.
The Civilian Conservation Corps era structure was built in the mid-1930s and is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs. The 1.3- acre pool is up to 25 feet deep, holds 3.5 million gallons of water and the water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round.
Additionally, the Balmorhea State Park pool is home to numerous species of aquatic animals, including two small, endangered desert fishes- the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish.
For more information about the park, or to buy a day pass to Balmorhea State Park, visit the TPWD website.
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