Health inspectors look for critical violations at local swimming - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Health inspectors look for critical violations at local swimming pools

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The height of summer is upon us and that means swimming season is in full swing. But how safe are area swimming pools?

From chlorine levels to pool fencing to working emergency phones, local health inspectors must give a thumbs up to area pools to make sure they're up to code. They inspect indoor and outdoor pools at hotels, apartments, schools, subdivisions, country clubs, workout facilities, and many more.

A team of seven health department employees inspect the pools every month that they're open. Channel 3 looked through the inspection records of all 365 pools for June and found most of them received perfect or near-perfect scores of 100. The lowest was a 64.

Health Department Supervisor Lowe Wilkins said three pools required to be temporarily closed. Those pools have corrected their critical violations and have since re-opened.

"I found that number to be between 13 and 17 pools that we have to close temporarily for one reason or another during any one particular annual year," Wilkins said.

Wilkins said there's a number of critical violations they might find with a pool. Critical violations must be corrected within 10 days. If pool management fails to correct the critical violation within the 10 day window, it may be temporarily closed.

"If the water wasn't clear, a clarity issue, we might have to close the pool temporarily. If there was absence of a chlorine residual, if there was a safety issue, if the ring buoy wasn't properly located, if the shepherd's hook wasn't properly located where it was accessible to a guest," he explained.

Wilkins said his inspectors have a list of 34 items they check including chemical storage and handling, depth markers, adequate lifesaving equipment, working telephone, and water temperature, among many others.

"When we begin an inspection, the first thing we're going to look at is the clarity of the water, the pH and the total alkalinity ," he said.

If Wilkins or his team of inspectors finds a more serious violation, they can choose to close the pool on the spot.

"When we're at a pool and there's no chlorine residual and we have clarity issues, we'll temporarily close the pool," he said.

If a pool faces repeated violations of an identical critical item, its pool permit could be revoked.

The Health Department is also currently overseeing the construction of 10 pools that have to be inspected during the construction process approximately three times to ensure complete design compliance, Wilkins explained.

All pools are required to post the swimming pool permit and the most recent inspection report in a conspicuous manner.

If you suspect a pool is not being kept up to code, you can contact your local Health Department.

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