The splash park has been plagued with issues since the day the volunteer committee handed the playground over to the Town of Ponoka.
Two problems appear to have arisen at the splash park: Alberta Health Services is receiving water samples with inconsistent results and a chemical sensor is causing the splash park to shut down for some hours until it can reset. As temperatures rise and residents and visitors want to use the park this has caused some aggravation.
Coun. Rick Bonnett voiced his concern to Wes Amendt, director of community services, during the Aug. 13 council meeting.
“Is there somebody from this company that’s going to come out? Obviously this is still under warranty and they need to be able to make sure that our people know how to be able to rectify this,” he stated.
He saw comments on Facebook from concerned residents and believes people want to enjoy the amenity. Bonnett feels representatives from Vortex, the company that manufactures the equipment, should come to Ponoka to troubleshoot the issue.
Amendt told council what issues staff have been dealing with.
“We’ve had some continuous issues with a chemical sensor and the system that regulates the chemicals at the splash park,” said Amendt. “We’ve been in contact with the manufacturer and the company Vortex.”
“It’s frustrating to no end,” he added.
Responsibility for monitoring and troubleshooting the issues falls on Jackie Olson, aquaplex operator for the town, and Amendt says she has been having trouble with the sensor. She has been on the phone with Donald Doucette, field service technician with Vortex, to solve issues as they arise.
According to Amendt, the system is designed to adjust chlorine and PH levels automatically but staff have, in some cases, added chlorine manually.
“The system is saying one thing but the readings we’re getting are different,” he said in an interview.
One of the purposes of a certified pool operator is to troubleshoot chemical imbalances, said Glen Carpenter, field service technician with Vortex. The sensor only tells people what needs to be done. “Essentially these systems are to be maintained by a certified aquatics facility officer or certified pool operator.”
Before the splash park opened, Doucette came to Ponoka and trained Amendt, Olson and Tamara Huzar, recreation clerk, for two days on the system and the company also supplied manuals on the operation of the park.
Carpenter was unable to speak to the issues the town is having because Doucette was away at time of the interview.
The park is still under warranty though; depending on the equipment, warranty is for two or five years.
“The operations and maintenance aspect of it is the responsibility of the owners,” added Carpenter.
“If it is an issue with Vortex components or product, we need to be made aware of it.”
Despite Amendt’s statement the town has contacted the company, Carpenter is only aware of the replacement of the sensor. It is possible Doucette handled calls from Olson but did not log them.
Amendt’s frustration stems from the continuous issues at the park. “I understand the frustration of the community but it’s out of our control.”
“To say the least it’s a very positive addition when it’s working,” he added.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) shut down the park July 26 over issues with water test samples. Results did not meet safety requirements and a new chemical sensing probe was replaced to fix the problem. It is believed the sensor may have been showing a need to add more chemicals when not needed.
The department requires cultured samples to be less than a certain number. Samples sent to AHS exceeded those amounts but the park was later opened once the town rectified the issue.