Tuesday | April 21, 2015
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Chilly Waters

User-proclaimed chilly temperatures at two Hawaii County pools have residents asking why temperatures are so low.

West Hawaii Today received calls from the community regarding temperatures being too cold to swim at both the Kona Community Aquatics Center in Kailua-Kona and the Konawaena High School swimming pool in Kealakekua. The callers stressed that temperatures are too cold, even for Hawaii.

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Bob Fitzgerald, contacted Thursday, said pool temperatures at the Kona Community Aquatics Center average about 76 while temperatures at the Konawaena pool midday average about 75. Temperatures can vary, however, depending on the time of the year and day as well as use of the pool.

While that may seem cool to users, the pools are warmer, perhaps 10 degrees warmer, than Kawamoto Swim Stadium and Laupahoehoe Pool, he said. He said the most complaints about pool temperatures come into the county during the months of January, February and March. Rarely do complaints come in during the warm, summer months.

“We have to be fair on both sides of the island,” he said when asked about the temperatures at Kona Community Aquatics Center and the Konawaena swimming pool. “It’s just a few months out of the year that the temperature goes down.”

The average indoor temperature for multiuse pools is 84 to 86 degrees, U.S. Water Fitness Association President and CEO John Spannuth said. He noted that pools used for competitive swimming range between 78 and 80 degrees while those used for arthritis-related fitness activities and infants and young children is about 90 degrees.

“The water temperature is the key to having successful water programs,” he said. “You can never keep everyone happy no matter the temperature.”

While the Kona Community Aquatics Center’s pool can be heated, being that a heater is already installed, Fitzgerald said it is cost prohibitive because the equipment runs on electricity.

Installing a solar panel system to power the heater would require a large area of panels, similar to what was constructed to power the West Hawaii Civic Center, he said.

“Raising the temperature two to three degrees would take an extreme amount of money,” Fitzgerald said, but was unable to estimate how much electricity would cost to operate the equipment there.

As for heating Konawaena High School swimming pool, Fitzgerald said the county is committed to repairing the solar heating system there. The pool’s heating system has been down about a year now after maintenance crews discovered leaking pipes and issues with the solar heating system itself.

Mayor Billy Kenoi’s executive assistant, Bobby Command, said a consultant-compiled report should be received by the county as late as next week. That report, he said, will outline what work will have to be done.

Command said preliminary repairs will include replacing all pipes and some damaged panels. The work will not require a full closure, he added.

Cost estimates range from $75,000 to $200,000 with Fitzgerald saying the work will likely have a price tag near the upper end.

“It’s not easy,” Fitzgerald said, “but the mayor, I believe, is committed to fixing it.”