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The Salida City Council met for a work session on Monday, January 6, and among the topics on the agenda was a discussion with regard to the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center (SHSAC) lap pool temperatures. During the work session Salida Recreation Director Mike ‘Diesel’ Post shared data that had been collected around user groups, and the general consensus was that more data is needed still to determine how the temperature should be set.

Salida Recreation Center (Catherine Eichel Photography)

On December 17, 2019 Coach Wendy Gorie and members of the High School Swim team approached the Salida City Council during the public comments section of the meeting to request that staff lower the pool temperature to below 82 degrees, while the historical average that has been recorded the past seven years shows an average temperature at 84.24 degrees.

That night, the matter was discussed during Council member comment and Recreation Director Post made an attempt to provide clarification to the situation sharing the operations and logistics of how the pool functions. Council directed staff to bring the details to the Recreation Advisory Board (RAB).

City Staff met with the RAB on December 19, following the direction made during the Salida City Council meeting. The historical temperature data, most recent complaints, and the logistics of pool operation were shared with the RAB.

The RAB stated that the aquatic facility would benefit from an investment in infrastructure to be able to better manage the water temperature. The RAB concluded the pool temperature discussion by making a motion to advise council that neither the Recreation Advisory Board nor City Council should dictate the operations of the SHSAC, except those fiscal in nature, but to direct staff to manage the pool as a “multi-user facility.”

Salida City staff recommended that council discuss the RAB recommendations and provide staff with guidance as to next steps.

“We have lots of user groups, and the next step would be to determine what those non-competitive, therapeutic and or leisure users [need] and what that temperature should be. If we were to manage the pool for the most users, those are our most users and would have to determine the most appropriate temperature for them,” said Post.

Post continued, “And for the time being, if we were attempting to find homeostasis in temperature, we would have to find it for those user groups. The competitive swimmers, based on this data, would be outliers that it would be difficult to manage for.”

“I think something important to mention is that I agree that Council should not be setting pool temperatures, the same way we should not be out shoveling the sidewalks when it snows or telling Russ [Salida Police Chief Johnson] which corner to sit on to write tickets. What we should be doing is giving clear direction to the pool as to what that user group looks like and how we can support them.” Mayor P.T. Wood added “it’s important that we can give them the tools so that they can do that.”

Wood continued, “I don’t know if we have enough data to say that the temperature is perfect. It certainly seems to be some health issues for competitive swimmers, which certainly has to be part of the calculation and what we are thinking about. I think getting too granular on this stuff is not what council should be doing. An overall strategy and giving tools for direction is what we should be doing.”

In closing the discussion, Post mentioned that he will be meeting with the Salida School District to discuss the contract between the District and City of Salida for the competitive swimmers to practice at the SHSAC. One of the items within the contract up for discussion will be the duration of time in which the competitive swimmers have to practice, and extending the length of their use to provide time to take a break in the middle of practice and cool down.