"If the facility is not properly winterized we run many risks."
In the summer, the McPherson Water Park is a place for people to cool off and splash around. But once summer wanes, workers have their work cut out for them to get the park ready for winter.
"Typically winterization starts right after the last rental toward the end of August," said Kyle Roberts, aquatics director for the McPherson Recreation Commission. "I utilize any summer staff that are still around to assist and this last year we had assistance from [Central Christian College] students for a day that got a lot of the clean up done."
The work begins with putting away all the equipment that is used during the warm weather season. This includes chairs, diving boards, starting blocks, shaded canopies, and splash buckets. It also includes covering the Bullpup slide and speakers.
"This helps the equipment last much longer as it is not exposed to the elements during the winter," Roberts said.
Next, the lazy river and main pool have to be drained, which takes time and has to be monitored. Each pipe must be cleared of water to avoid costly repairs if trapped water were to freeze and damage the system. All 12 pumps, which circulate water, have to be drained as well.
The supply rooms must be cleaned to avoid any damage over the off-season.
"Chlorine is a harsh chemical when left sitting," Roberts said. "I also must clean out the acid room, which controls the pH of the water, and the pumps for that must be washed out to keep them working for next year.
This year, clean-up finished at the end of October and early November. It's a lot of work, but vital if the water park is to remain operational.
"If the facility is not properly winterized we run many risks, mostly relating to water cracking pipes, causing leaks above or below the ground that will continue to run until shut off," Roberts said. "There is also the risk of erosion from chlorine left out on the ground and acid oxidizing any metal, causing rust to form, potentially making the metal brittle."
If other equipment is left uncleaned, it can deteriorate more quickly than normal, leading to higher expenses to replace worn-out items. Since the city of McPherson operates the pool with the McPherson Recreation Commission, taxpayers have an interest in the park being a good steward of its resources.
"Proper winterization benefits the community by saving tax payer money," Roberts said. "If we spend less on upkeep of the park that money can be spent elsewhere in the community. And of course, a direct benefit is that the Water Park will be operational every summer working properly for the community to enjoy."