If swimming pools at public places such as clubhouses, gyms and subdivisions are open in Columbia County, health officials say, swimmers can rest assured they have been inspected and are safe to use.
During the latest rounds of inspections at the county's 57 public swimming pools, all but two passed county and state health codes, according to the Columbia County Health Department.
The two pools that failed - Hampton Inn and Ivy Club - were closed and not allowed to reopen until they passed muster with the health department, environmental health specialist Leslie Lanier wrote in an e-mail.
Public swimming pools, including those at apartment complexes, motels and camps, are required to pass inspection before opening each season. The health department's requirements go beyond those of the state, Lanier wrote, and are done at random throughout the season.
"An inspection may be conducted at any time the pool is open," Lanier stated. "The state requires pools be inspected twice per season. In Columbia County pools are inspected four times per season, or four times per year for year round pools."
Unlike inspections at restaurants and cafeterias, pools receive a pass-fail rating and not a number grade.
Inspectors check for balanced water chemistry and sanitation, the physical condition of the pool deck and look for depth markers and the function of drains, pumps and even drinking fountains. Public pools are required to have at least a 4-foot fence with a self-latching gate, a phone, life-saving equipment and emergency signs.
"We (also) look at the daily log that is kept by the facility to make sure the readings of the chlorine and pH are taken twice a day," she said.
Swimmers should make sure the pool deck is clear of obstructions, look for life saving equipment nearby and make sure the water is clear and the bottom is visible before getting in the pool, Lanier said. If there is any question, pool operators are required to show their chemical log book and inspection permit upon request, she said.
Lanier said the most common reasons for pools to close are for inadequate chlorine levels, malfunctioning pumps or filtration system or the inability of inspectors to see the bottom.
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