The clear, sparkling waters of Balmorhea State Park have long been one of Texas’s most beloved places to swim. Located in Toyahville, the 1.3-acre oasis is one of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pools. When it shut down in May 2018, Texans from across the state lost one of the best spots to escape the summer heat. Thanks to donations from Apache Corporation and hundreds of Texans, the park is slated to reopen.
During an annual cleaning of the Balmorhea pool in May, park officials noticed that the concrete underneath the diving board was damaged, which indicates erosion, likely due to water flow from San Solomon Spring, which sends 15 million gallons of water through the pool each day. Officials closed down the park. In August, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation and Apache Corporation, an oil and gas company based in Houston, announced a $2 million fundraising effort for repairs. Apache Corporation pledged to match all donations up to $1 million.
By January 17, 2019, TPWD had raised over $1 million through 575 donations, with 60 percent of the donations under $100. On January 24, Apache Corporation executives presented a check to TPWD, matching the $1 million in donations and pledging an additional $1 million to create an endowment supporting future upkeep of the park beyond the maintenance funds provided through the state.
“Balmorhea State Park is a natural treasure and an icon of West Texas, and it’s also a critical part of the local economy,” said John Christmann, CEO of Apache Corporation. “But most importantly, it’s a special place to the residents of the entire West Texas region, many of whom are Apache employees and partners. It wasn’t a matter of if but a matter of how we would help.”
TPWD has not yet released a timeline for the restoration, but the park will soon provide cool respite to visitors and locals again—and for generations to come.