Keeping it clean: Pools inspected and ready for summer

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

CONYERS -- As summer approaches and the days get hotter, the idea of a cool, fresh swim is becoming more and more appealing. But just what goes into getting ready for a day at the pool? For East Metro Health District inspectors, it's a lot more than just putting on a swimsuit.

Several things need to be inspected before a pool can be opened to swimmers. Unsafe conditions can develop over the offseason and need to be checked for the summer to make sure they are "in compliance with all health regulations," District Environmental Health Director Joseph Sternburg said.

In Rockdale and Newton counties, there are 130 pools that must be inspected before opening. Most seasonal pools open Memorial Day weekend, so inspections need to be done before that time. Chemicals, cleanliness and safety features of the facility must be checked before it is given the OK to open.

One of the main things inspectors look for is proper chemical balance in the water, such as the chlorine and the pH level, said Sternburg. They must also ensure that all pumps and filters are working properly and that all main pool drains adhere to the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, he added. The act was signed into law in 2007 in response to the drowning death of Graeme Baker, daughter of Nancy Baker and the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. Graeme Baker drowned in 2002 after the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water.

If a pool fails to meet all of the inspection requirements, it will not be allowed to open until all deficiencies are repaired and an additional inspection is passed.

Once the initial inspection is completed, inspectors typically visit each pool once more over the course of the summer; however, the East Metro Health District will periodically send out unannounced inspectors to make sure the pool still meets all of the requirements to stay open.

And, if everything is the way it should be, a dip in the cool water can be just the remedy for a scorching 90-degree day of summer.