The UT System Board of Regents recently approved a $5.9 million budget to renovate the pool in the Recreation Wellness Center on UTSA’s Main Campus.

The old pool, which closed November 2011, will be dug out and replaced by the new pool.

On Jan. 30, UTSA will meet with an architect to design the new pool, which is scheduled for completion by August 2015.

The original pool, which opened in January 2008, was plagued with construction problems from the beginning. Although the pool was scheduled to open August 2007, excessive rain pushed the opening date back. When the pool finally opened five months later, bursting pipes caused several shutdowns.

According to Laura Munroe, Director of Campus Recreation, the problem was extensive: “About every three months another major pipe was breaking.”

During Spring Break of 2008, workers from SpawGlass, the contractor for the Wellness Center and the pool, repaired a broken pipe. Two months later, SpawGlass returned to repair four or five more pipes. “We were open but losing water,” Munroe said.

Since 2008, SpawGlass regularly repaired the pipes that were buckling underneath the pool. “They graciously came in every time and fixed everything, and never charged UTSA a dime,” Munroe said.

Finally, in 2011, SpawGlass told the university they would no longer repair the pipes because they felt their company was not responsible for the structural problems. The pool closed that November.

UTSA Facilities then hired engineering firm Walter P. Moore to conduct a forensics test on the construction. During the year-long study, the engineering firm looked at all construction plans, documents and photos. Their findings revealed that SpawGlass’ construction crews “never removed the clay from the area and packed it with select fill,” Munroe said.

Because of those findings, UT System attorneys are currently talking with all involved in the construction to determine who is at fault. In the summer of 2012, UTSA received permission to move forward with the new pool.

Once the architectural firm has been chosen, the design of the new pool will begin based on feedback from students. The old pool, as well as the surrounding deck areas, will be completely excavated due to the buckling ground underneath.

According to Munroe, “It’s going to be a brand new pool. What we’ve heard from the students is that they want lap lanes, a leisure area and a spa.”

One “wish list” item is a sauna, which would require erecting a building.

According to Munroe, the staff requested unisex changing rooms that can be used as a wet classroom for lifeguard classes. If the budget allows it, the building could also house an additional room for a sauna.

One casualty of the pool renovations is the Lazy River, a feature that focus-groups in 2003 wanted for the original pool.

“We’re not planning on putting it back in,” Munroe said. “It was minimally used. It was used more by athletics, for walking against the current. Our group exercise classes used it for their exercising, but not very often.” She added that the Lazy River was also expensive to maintain.

“One of the things we’ve asked for in the contract,” said Munroe, “is that we will have several open forums for students to come in and talk to the architect about what they want. As soon we have that information, we’ll start advertising.”

“I think one of the things that’s so hard to understand, sometimes, is how long it takes to do anything,” Munroe added.

Once the firm is selected, the design process is expected to take six to eight months, with construction taking approximately the same amount of time.

Last spring, Munroe spoke with the UTSA Student Government Association (SGA) to find out what students wanted for the new pool. When pressed about specific requests, Munroe laughed. “They just want water!”

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