Evans plunge opened on Saturday after a two-week annual closer. While the closure can inconvenience some, it is a necessary part of up-keeping one of Hot Springs' most iconic attraction.
During the closure, maintenance is preformed that cannot be done efficiently, or at all with patrons around.
To make sure all maintenance is accomplished in two weeks, the pool's full time staff, lifeguards, janitorial team and contractors all worked together to get everything finished.
Facility Director Kris Hanson said, "This is an amazing time for us. We work very hard during close, but we are very fortunate to have the support of the city for this shutdown."
This year the Plunge replaced some of the upstairs flooring. Many of the floors had carpet installed in the past. The wet environment wasn't conducive to carpet and much of it was replaced with wood laminate. The women's locker room is getting textured cement floors, similar to the pool deck.
Routine touch ups are also preformed on the facilities paint.
One of the largest projects this year was removing all the paint below the waterline on the sides of the pool.
The pool first had to be drained to accomplish this.
The Plunge is filled by 13 mineral springs that sit under the shallow end. It holds almost 500,000 gallons of water. Because it is always taking in water from the springs, the entire volume of the pool is cycled through in about 90 minutes.
In order to remove the water from the pool, a drain is opened on the deep end. The springs never stop pumping water, so even after most of the water is removed, a small flow can be seen through the rocks.
After the water was drained paint removal could begin. Because the pool flows into Fall River, the facility must be careful about contaminating the water. A handheld grinder attached to a vacuum was used in order to contain the dust and paint chips from entering the river.
Removing the paint from the poolsides eliminates the risk of paint flaking off into the river as it ages. The facility also uses cleaning products, like chlorine to clean outside of the pool. The water flowing out of the Plunge is tested weekly to make sure there are no contaminants entering the river.
Another major project this year was improving the building's air handling system. Prior to this year, staff had to manually adjust for air intake and exhaust.
This proved to be problematic because staff isn't available to adjust at all times of the day. Because the pool is such a large body of warm water, the building is sensitive to heat and moisture changes outside.
Not being able to immediately adjust the airflow can lead to excess moister in the building. In very extreme cases this can create fog or even snow.
This year's improvement will give the Plunge speed controlled motors and automated louvers to manipulate the facilities air flow. The new system will allow staff to control the buildings climate remotely.
Past improvements to the plunge include the addition of heated showers. Shower water is sourced from the springs and comes out of the ground at 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Prior to the upgrade, patrons could expect a brisk rinse off because the water would lose heat on the way the the shower head.
Last year, the plunge also added a wheelchair accessible ramp to the shallow end of the pool.
Evan's Plunge was under private ownership until 2013 when the city purchased it. Because the facility has changed hands multiple times, employees never know what they are getting into when they start a project. "We are part maintenance, part Macgyver," said maintenance tech Tom Naasz.
The Plunge has resumed its regular operating hours. To stay up to date with all their activities, visit their website or Facebook page.