Over the next week, visitors to Hearst Castle will get a view that’s been missing since 2014: Water in the iconic outdoor Neptune Pool, one of the most photographed pools in the world.
But this is a test, only a test, and the water won’t be there long, according to Dan Falat, superintendent of the State Park district that includes the castle.
As part of a $5.4 million renovation project, contractors have spent months stripping the massive pool and repairing leaks that have plagued the 104-by-95-foot structure for about 80 years, but which had been getting worse in the past decade or so.
That meant removing thousands of circa 1930s Vermont marble tiles and heavy sculptures, tracking down and fixing places where water had been seeping out of the structure, sanding the shell, redoing the filtration system, repairing plumbing, and installing the pool’s first real waterproofing and a flexible membrane liner.
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On Thursday, workers began filling the 345,000-gallon pool for a weeklong test of those repairs.
Once the test is completed, Falat said, the untreated water will flow back into the normal watershed area.
He estimated that the pool could be refilled permanently as early as December or January, if everything goes according to plan, including the installation of the new tile (about 10,000 white marble and 4,500 green serpentine pieces).