Aug. 08–When the iconic spring-fed pool at West Texas’ Balmorhea State Park was shuttered in May, there were some fears that the nearby oil and gas operations of Apache Corp. triggered the collapse of a concrete wall.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department later determined the structural failure was caused by years of erosion from the flow of water from the springs behind the wall.
Despite the actual cause pinned to erosion, Houston-based Apache said it will match $1 million in funds raised to repair the still-closed 80-year-old pool. The goal is to raise $2 million to cover the full repair costs and Apache has agreed to cover half of the total if another $1 million is raised in donations.
The repairs are slated to begin in August, but the project is expected to take several months to complete.
“Apache is proud to partner with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to support one of Texas’s most treasured destinations. This public-private partnership will ensure this unique natural treasure remains an iconic part of our community for many years to come,” said Apache Chief Executive John Christmann.
COEXISTING: Oil drilling and Apache Corp. become part of life in Balmorhea
Brent Leisure, director of Texas state parks, said the goal is to reverse decades of erosion impacts and to reopen the oasis as soon as possible.
“It’s regrettable that the timing of this issue has prevented Texans from cooling off in their favorite swimming hole for most of this hot summer, but visitors will find an improved park after badly needed improvements are made to the pool, the historic motor courts and the parks’ popular campground,” Leisure added.
More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs. The 1.3-acre pool is up to 25 feet deep, holds 3.5 million gallons of water and the water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round.
At HoustonChronicle.com: Balmorhea will sink or swim with its beautiful springs
The parks department said the fundraising will help the cash-strapped department dedicate its dollars to facilities hit hard by Hurricane Harvey last year and from other recent flood events throughout the state.
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