It's a brief window for outdoor swimming fun in the Upper Midwest due to obvious weather limitations and a young, student-based staff at the pools.

The Elks Aquatic Center, Wachter Aquatic Center and Hillside Pool in Bismarck will shut down Sunday, about four days earlier than normal.

Pool hours are noon to 4 p.m. through Thursday and 4:30 to 7:50 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"We're losing our people. St. Mary's High School starts the 17th (of August). Half of our guards go to St. Mary's," said Jim Peluso, pool manager for the Bismarck Park District.

He considered condensing the remaining staff to keep one pool open longer, but said the numbers and schedules didn't pan out.

"It's natural we lose a lot of people. It's a safety thing. We can't operate with a short staff," Peluso said.

He said the district's June 4 opening was normal and was the same as before the city was wracked with the sudden flood fight against the Missouri River.

Peluso said he considered delaying the opening of the Wachter pool because of the flooding, but felt people on the south side needed some normalcy.

"Numbers were down a little at first. People had other priorities to think about," Peluso said.

It opened 52 days of a possible 65 this summer, he said. "We'll open if there is no threat of lightning or rain," Peluso said.

He is still tabulating user numbers, which he said "are down slightly, but they came back good."

The park district doesn't expect a profit from running the seasonal pools.

"We subsidize all of the pools here, but recover about 40 percent of that from fees," Peluso said.

Mandan's Raging Rivers Water Park will remain open through Labor Day, said its manager, Reid Katzung. Hours will remain the normal 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Aug. 21, and will run on a limited weekend schedule of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 27-28, and Sept. 3, 4 and 5, as weather allows.

Katzung said daily rates will be reduced for the shorter weekend schedule, from $14 to $8.

"We're losing kids with the fall start of sports and we have a larger group of college kids working here," Katzung said. "We'll probably go from 80 to 55 or 60."

Katzung delayed opening the water park from its planned Memorial Day startup by 21 days, mostly because the water park/park district office/fitness center served as a headquarters for the National Guard during the early days of Mandan's flood fight.

"The National Guard took over the building. Even if we had tried to open, it would have been a complete nightmare. We were right across from sandbag central," Katzung said. "They were sandbagging right across the street."

Access was further complicated when the park district built a dike to protect its offices.

Because weather conditions are typically sketchy in the spring, he figures the net loss of days comes closer to two weeks. "I'd rather lose those 21 days in the early season than later in the season," Katzung said.

"Our attendance was up in July," Katzung said. "It made a huge dent in our losses from earlier in the season."

He said the first nine days of August have not been ideal because of the rain storms, but he remains optimistic.

"It's all about weather," Katzung said. "If weather cooperates the next 21 days of summer we should be fine."

 (Reach reporter LeAnn Eckroth at 250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.)