Costly Leak at the Air Force Academy

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Colorado is facing another summer of drought, and residents are forced to water their lawns under tight watering restrictions. But, one place in Colorado Springs is wasting 16,000 gallons a day, the Air Force Academy.

11 News has learned the the Academy's outdoor pool has a major problem. It's been leaking up to 16,000 gallons of water per day since last summer, and the school is willingly keeping it open and constantly re-filling it.

The outdoor pool in the center of campus is for the Academy's officers and staff to use.

Independent sources and internal academy emails suggest some of the school departments have known about this leak, at least since the beginning of the year and possibly since as early as last summer.
Officially, Air Force Academy Public Affairs tells us the leak is only 9,000 gallons of water a day and that they just found out about it last week.

But, in one internal email 11 news received, dated January of this year, there's some discussion about opening the pool for this summer, even though the pool leaking thousands of gallons of water a day. In another, there is a calculation of what it will cost to keep refilling the pool, about $1,000 per month.

The January email, from the contractor who manages the pool reads:

"Please brief C.E.(Civil Engineering) management about suspending operation of the Academy Club swimming pool until the associated water circulation is repaired."

In that same email, the contractor adds, if the leaks are anywhere near that large, "we cannot operate the pool next season until the leaks are fixed."

Another email recognizes the problem, saying "with water restrictions being placed on family housing residents and off base, the water loss may become an issue that the ABW/CC (Air Base Wing and Company Comander) will have to answer."

Despite the problem, the pool was opened Memorial Day weekend and remains so and as far as we know is still leaking.

No one from the Academy was available for comment.

Just to compare: the average household uses 156,000 gallons of water per year. In the past two weeks alone, the Academy's pool has leaked and been refilled with 260,000 gallons, at a cost of about $1,000 per month.