As soon as the state health department approves its plans, the Batavia Park District is ready to start fixing the leak at Harold Hall Quarry Beach. The park board Tuesday hired Benchmark Construction Co. Inc. for $937,487 to install liners to stop the beach from losing an estimated 250,000 gallons of water a day into the fractured limestone below it. Engineers say the Quarry started losing water in 2004 when the south Batavia dam on the nearby Fox River was removed, lowering the river 1 to 2 feet below the Quarry. Before that, the Quarry's water level was higher than the river.
The state health department, which regulates swimming pools, has yet to officially review the plan and decide whether the Quarry would legally still be a beach or a pool after the work, since part of it would now have a concrete bottom. But it has told the district it is next on the list.
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"I think we are still on track to hear about a permit by the end of the month," said Jim Eby, the district's director of planning and development. The district would like to start work in September. The Quarry closes for the season Aug. 21.
The company will install a rubberlike geotextile membrane in the subsurface of the swimming area. It will also put concrete-based liner in the diving area. A new groundwater drainage system will be installed, to prevent heavy off-season rains from getting under the liners and causing them to bubble up.
"I'm pleased that this is finally before us to be fixed once and for all," said park board President Patrick Callahan.
"Off we go!" exclaimed the district's director, Mike Clark.
The Quarry has been the subject of discussion for several years. Attendance has declined precipitously since it was last remodeled in the early 1990s. In 2008, the district proposed fixing the leak and revamping the Quarry while adding a fitness center to Quarry Beach Park. Voters soundly rejected that plan. The district then held a series of forums for residents to discuss what they liked and disliked about the Quarry, and what they thought should be done to it. Those who attended said the Quarry should remain, and gave several suggestions about improving the customer experience.
What complaint the district has heard is that the water in the Quarry is too cold. Because of the leak, the district has been replenishing about 25 percent of the water lost with water pumped from a well several hundred feet deep. The water comes out of the well at 58 degrees.