Pool Closure Announcement
After much consideration, and with input from a team of congregants dedicated to finding a solution to our water woes, Unity of Wimberley’s Board of Trustees has voted to close our pool permanently, effective immediately.
Recognizing that the pool has been an important part of many of your summers, especially during COVID, this has been an extremely difficult choice for the Board, but one the Unity community has been wrestling with for more than 15 years. It has become clear that increasing area growth and more frequent droughts are taxing our local groundwater supply. This challenge can only get worse with the increased demands being placed on the aquifer.
How We Got Here
Last summer, our well came precariously close to running dry. While the ongoing drought and record-breaking summer heat contributed significantly to this state, it is vital to note that more than 80% of the water we draw from our well goes to keeping the pool filled.
It is from this place that the Board decided to take a comprehensive look at our community’s water needs. At the Annual Meeting in January 2021, we asked for volunteers to form a member-led Water Committee. The Committee’s extensive research (which included the feasibility of rainwater harvesting) yielded the information in the “Quick Pool Facts” below. Taking these facts and the Committee’s recommendations into consideration, the Board concluded that keeping the pool open was no longer financially viable or environmentally responsible.
While considering the pool situation, we focused on two key priorities:
- Ensuring we could meet the water needs of the church itself for years to come.
- Balancing our fiscal and environmental responsibilities and being good stewards of our Hill Country resources.
The Water Committee’s comprehensive analysis shone a clear light on just how much of our limited water resources were being used for maintaining the pool. The committee gave the Board two important pieces of information:
- Even with diminishing flow, our well can feasibly meet the church’s water needs well into the next decade, without the pool.
- Without the pool, rainwater collection from the main roof is an excellent option to provide the church with an alternative water source and reduce our dependence on the aquifer.
Thinking beyond the church’s immediate water needs, the Board and Committee have also investigated water management conditions in the Hill Country overall. Click here for some highlights of what we learned.
Armed with a better understanding of groundwater conditions county-wide and with our own Water Committee’s findings, the Board concluded that closing the pool was the best way to serve the church and the environment going forward.
What Happens Next?
While the pool closure is effective immediately, we haven’t finalized our long-term usage plan for the site. Our first priority is to find the best way to decommission the pool structure and make it safe for people and wildlife in the short-term--options the Water Committee is actively researching. We’ve also contacted county and city officials to make sure Unity is compliant with all regulations for safe decommissioning.
At the same time, the Board is considering longer-term options for the pool area. Ideally, we would like to turn the pool from a recreational asset to a community and/or environmental one. We have already begun investigating the feasibility of:
- Converting the existing structure to rainwater storage. We’re continuing our research to see if that water can be refined to provide potable water to the building should the well lose its capacity to provide sufficient water to the church in the future.
- Creating a permaculture garden on the site that catches and stores rainwater and supports native plants and wildlife.
- Using the site for an income-generating, open-air pavilion for events and outdoor services.
The pool has always been a unique and much-loved feature of our hilltop and the greater Wimberley community, and we will celebrate its role with a socially-distanced blessing ceremony on the site on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Further details about this outdoor ceremony will be shared very soon!
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to re-evaluate what is most important to us and how the way we live impacts those around us. The winter storm this February further brought that point home. While we teach that we live in a vastly abundant universe, we are also tasked with being excellent stewards of the good we’re given.
We hope you understand that our Board and Committee members have been regular pool users over the years, and the decision to close the pool is heartbreaking for us as well. But the findings are clear: the water requirements of the pool are over-taxing our well; rainwater collected from the roof won’t be enough to keep it full; and using well water to do so isn’t environmentally viable or responsible.
We thank you for your understanding and invite you to join us for the blessing ceremony on April 22.
Please email your questions or concerns about the pool closure directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our business manager will forward all of your written comments to the Board. We ask that you do not call the office about this matter.
With love and blessings,
Rev. Jill Carey
Chip Slade – President, Board of Trustees