Wasserbahn water park remains closed as owner make repairs

Park closed in September after owner withdraws appeal to state health department

Erin Jordan
Published: December 30 2013 | 4:30 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:27 am in
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A popular indoor waterpark remains closed nearly four months after the owner agreed not to reopen until he made structural changes to the pools and improved management to avoid health code violations.

The Wasserbahn Waterpark Resort, located in the Clarion Inn in Williamsburg, was closed Sept. 9 after owner Young Kim withdrew an appeal of a June closure order from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The closure came after a series of complaints and failed inspections for violations that included lack of chlorine, broken equipment and insufficient water testing.

Kim has hired Water Technologies Inc., a Wisconsin-based engineering firm, to audit the waterpark’s equipment and facility, the IDPH said Monday. The state health department has also approved Kim’s use of ACCO, a Johnston pool-management company.

“I don’t know yet in terms of time frame (for reopening),” said Carmily Stone, chief of Iowa's Bureau of Environmental Health Services, a division of the state health department.

The Clarion Inn and several other nearby businesses owned by Kim have remained open.

The Wasserbahn, with tube slides, a 160-gallon bucket dump, geysers and a floating log walk, has been a much-visited Interstate 80 destination for families since it opened in 2004. The waterpark had few health code violations from 2006 to 2011, but changed management in October 2011.

The Wasserbahn was closed for about a week in June 2012 after a water test showed E. coli bacteria in the well that supplies the hotel. Although the dangerous bacteria weren't found in the pool, inspectors closed the water park because of ongoing issues with chlorine deficiency. Lack of chlorine creates an environment where bacteria and parasites can multiply and sicken swimmers.

On March 27, a woman complained her husband developed a sore on his arm after swimming at the Wasserbahn March 24.

"She was concerned that the pool did not smell like chlorine at the time," the complaint states. "She also said that you could not see the sides or the bottom of the pool. She stated it had a murky feel and the bottom felt dirty/sandy."

The complaint triggered a series of visits by Johnson County inspectors, who contract with the state to inspect pools in Iowa County. They found inadequate chlorine, poor record keeping and broken equipment. Hotel staff also failed to return inspectors' phone calls and didn't submit water tests as required, Johnson County officials reported.

The state health department ordered the Wasserbahn to close June 21, but Kim appealed the order. The water park stayed open until September, when Kim withdrew his appeal.

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