xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Pool's health monitored as opening day preparations begin

Assistant manager Courtney Griffith applies a fresh coat of paint to a picnic table at the Westminster Municipal Pool Wednesday afternoon, May 22, 2013. The pool opens for the season at noon Saturday.
Assistant manager Courtney Griffith applies a fresh coat of paint to a picnic table at the Westminster Municipal Pool Wednesday afternoon, May 22, 2013. The pool opens for the season at noon Saturday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

The sun was shining, the water was glistening and the picnic tables were receiving a fresh coat of orange and light blue paint.

It was crunch time at the Westminster Municipal Pool Wednesday afternoon. And that meant no one was exempt from working, Kristi Turgeon, Westminster Recreation and Parks program assistant said.

Advertisement

That's why Turgeon was talking with a Carroll County Health Department inspector to make sure the pool passed health codes (its stamp of approval to open Saturday was netted shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday). And Abby Gruber, the city's Recreation and Parks director, was in the women's bathroom, giving the walls a fresh coat of orange paint.

"Things like this are very important to the environmental health of your pool," Gruber said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Pools must meet county and state standards before they are allowed to open their doors to eager swimmers, county health department Inspector Michael Ash said shortly after giving the Westminster pool the green light for Memorial Day weekend.

Different criteria help ensure the water and facilities are clean, Ash said. Every year, germs found in swimming spots make thousands of Marylanders sick with recreational water illnesses, according to a Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene news release.

These illnesses can come in a variety of forms, such as skin, stomach, ear and respiratory infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pools use filters to physically remove contaminants from the water. Last summer, public pools in the Atlanta-area were tested, and E. coli - a fecal indicator - was found in 58 percent of samples, meaning swimmers frequently introduce fecal matter into pools, according to a CDC report released Friday.

Advertisement

Precautionary measures are taken in the Westminster Municipal Pool to ensure the water is clean, Turgeon said. The water's pH and total chlorine is tested every two hours.

If the total amount of chlorine in the water isn't at a certain level, more is added. Bacteria can't survive at the correct chlorine level, according to Turgeon.

The total dissolved solids in the filters - which includes hair, skin and fecal matter - is tested twice a week, according to Turgeon.

Yet, chlorine and other treatments don't kill germs instantly - even in the most properly maintained pool, according to the DHMH news release. After a single diarrheal incident, swallowing a mouthful of contaminated pool water can cause diarrhea lasting up to two to three weeks, the release states.

So, on Wednesday, pool and city employees were cleaning, the chores a result of a checklist crafted in early March. Bathroom walls were scrubbed. Showers curtains were replaced. All surfaces were bleached.

"We work really hard up here to maintain what we have," Gruber said, "and make sure this is a nice service to the community."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement