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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
John Ingle

Public and members-only pools in Wichita Falls are still looking to make a splash this summer by using alternative water sources.

People and businesses are prohibited from using the public drinking supply to top off outdoor pools when the city reaches Stage 5 Drought Catastrophe, according to the city's drought plan.

Jack Murphy, Parks and Recreation director for Wichita Falls, said Lucy Pool at Lucy Park will benefit from water being hauled in for Castaway Cove. The Wichita Falls City Council passed an agenda item April 15 that would allow the Castaway Cove water park to purchase and haul in 6,000-9,000 gallons of water daily to replenish the park's supply as well as other city facilities.

Murphy said city staff is working on the logistics of getting the water to the pool.

"We've never been through this before, so we're a little in the dark on how to do it," he said. "We'll work through that and figure out how and where - the details of it."

The Lucy Pool is the only public pool in Wichita Falls and averages about 7,000 in paid attendance annually and another 2,700 children for camp. The pool is about 5,200 square feet and holds 225,000 gallons of water.

Murphy said the pool has been a source of sun and fun for Wichita Falls children since the early 1970s.

Camp Fire North Texas will also haul in water to keep children swimming, including about 300 who will attend their day camp that begins June 9, executive director Bettye Ricks said. She said their staff, too, is working on the details of getting in water for the 90,000-gallon pool.

"It might be a challenge," she said. "But that's what we will do."

Ricks said a committee met multiple times to discuss options, and the decision was made that it was important to keep providing a safe place for children as has been done for years.

One popular outdoor swimming venue in Wichita Falls won't be open this summer. Brandon Brown, president and CEO of the YMCA of Wichita Falls, said their staff has done a cost analysis and determined it wouldn't be economically feasible to bring in water from an alternate source for the 180,000-gallon pool.

But, he said, the YMCA is able to do what others can't - provide other options.

"One advantage we have over some of the places that have just one outdoor pool is we can utilize our indoor pools," he said of the Downtown and East Branch YMCAs. "No, it's not the ideal situation. We would love to have the kids and families out in the sun enjoying the outdoor pool without a doubt.

"But, when life gives you lemons, you've got to make some lemonade out of it."

Brown said the East Branch pool is unintentionally the best-kept secret in town and not a lot of people know about it.

Fain Pool is another outdoor pool that will truck in water to stay open during Stage 5, according to a post on

"The board has decided to bring in water to keep the pool levels up so that we will not use the city's limited water supply," the organization said. "It is our responsibility to be as conservative as possible."

The combined lake levels of lakes Arrowhead and Kickapoo before Wednesday's rains was 25.3-percent capacity. Stage 5 restrictions kick in when the combined levels reach 25 percent.

May 8, 2014




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