A new pool ordinance will soon be making waves across Columbia County, as the Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the policy changes at the meeting Tuesday, July 16.
Changes include requiring anti-entrapment features for all neighborhood and public pools. These devices cover the drains on the bottom of pools to prevent "suction injuries."
The new ordinance will affect all water parks, neighborhood pools and public pools in Columbia County. These will be the first major changes to the county's pool ordinance since 1991.
"What is different about this new (ordinance) is that we are aligning our local swimming pool ordinance to match the state ordinance," said Pam Tucker, Director of Columbia County Emergency Services. "There has been some good input from parks and recreation departments from around the state and the health departments. These changes are geared towards health issues and protecting children especially."
"The health department's environmental employee will be doing the inspections and enforcing the new ordinance," Tucker said. "If the pool isn't up to standards, (the health department) will try to work with them ... within a time frame and most of the time, people will cooperate."
The filtering time of pools will change from eight hours to six hours.
"This means that if there are 50,000 gallons of water in the pool, every gallon must be filtered though that system once within six hours," Tucker said.
Other changes include:
All public or neighborhood pools will soon be required to have a hard-wired telephone in case of an emergency.
Pool operators will soon have to undergo Certified Pool Operator training that is approved by the National Swimming Pool Foundation.
Chlorine levels have been raised from .5 parts per million to 1.5 parts per million.
Environmental health specialist Sean Hayes inspects pools once a month for the Columbia County Health Department.
"We have been telling most of the pools for a couple of years now that these changes were coming. They allow for grandfathering of all standards except for suction hazards until January of 2003," Hayes said. "For most pools, coming up to the code won't mean a tremendous change."
State and local officials have also worked on new codes for water parks.
"These are the same guidelines that are going to have to be followed by all water parks in the state," Tucker said. "A few years ago there was an e-coli outbreak that created some serious problems at White Water (water park) in Atlanta.
"They have learned from (and) tried to incorporate those things into regulations to help protect the population." Tucker said. "When you are in a public pool, you just need to know that it's safe and clean."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.