Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities. Not hard to believe in this heat! But more people heading to community pools means more chances for recreational water illnesses to spread. The Winnebago County Health Department shuts down 12 to 18 pools every year for failing to meet health and safety standards.
Once a year public pools in Winnebago County get a visit from health inspectors. Tuesday it was Sand Park Pool's turn for a test.
"The first thing we do is look to see if we can see the bottom of the pool and the drain," explains Inspector Gail Goldman.
Inspectors then check chlorine levels to make sure bacterial growth is controlled. They test PH levels to make sure the water is properly balanced, avoiding skin or eye irritations with swimmers. Sand Park gets a thumbs up on its scores, but Goldman says, "Every year we do have some pools that have to be closed because of problems."
The Health Department estimates that 18 of the county's 124 pools are closed every year because of health or safety violations. Chlorine adjustments and filter repairs are the usual problems. Pools normally re-open in a day.
Rockford Park District employees are not aware of any problems at their pools. Three times a day employees test pool water. A certified pool operator keeps an eye on filters and staff follows strict guidelines for proper swimwear.
"Safety is obviously our number one priority throughout the park district," says Jessica Fredericks, Aquatics Operations Manager for the Park District.
If pool patrons notice anything of concern they're encouraged to call the Health Department.
In a study of several cities in our country, the CDC found the highest percentage of violations occurred in kiddy pools, hotel pools and medical or therapy pools.