Local pools getting caught up on new drain regulation
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado A majority of Garfield County swimming pools will still be open, despite 300,000 outdoor, indoor and commercial pools around the country that were expected to shut down for not being in compliance with a federal pool safety regulation that went into effect on Friday.The federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Act (VGB), which was passed by Congress on Dec. 19, 2007, gave pool operators one year until Dec. 19, 2008 to come into compliance by installing new drain covers and grates to help prevent accidental entrapment and drownings due to the strong suction of the old drains.The Act was passed after Virginia Graeme Baker granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III, died in 2002 after being trapped on a drain in a private in-ground spa.According to data from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, pool suction entrapment claims one to two victims per year.The problem for most pool operators right now is that the required pool drain covers have not been available to everyone by the Dec. 19 deadline. Seasonal pools that are only open during the summer months were not required to adhere to the Dec. 19 deadline. But year-round indoor and outdoor pools and spas were.The Glenwood Springs Community Center has ordered the required drain covers, but did not receive them by the deadline. However, it does not expect to close its indoor pool.Weve ordered the drain covers but they havent been manufactured yet, said Taylor McDonald, aquatic coordinator for the center. But were not closing. Weve talked to our insurance company and as long as we can prove due diligence and we have an invoice, we wont be closing.The Hot Springs Lodge and Pool in Glenwood Springs is already in compliance and does not need to change its suction drains, nor have they had tragedies involving drownings or accidents due to drains.Its not an issue for us, said Kjell Mitchell, Chief Operating Officer and general manager of the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool. Its not necessary for us to replace our drains and weve had no incidences.Rifles municipal Art Dague pool does not fall under the Dec. 19 deadline since it operates only seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to Recreation Director Aleks Briedis.The (Dec. 19) deadline only applies to year-round pools and were seasonal, Briedis said. But weve been getting lots of e-mails from our insurance company all year.However, the pool must have the new drains installed by the time it opens in 2009.The pool at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center already has the required drain covers and does not face a closure, according to Michelle Bargas, aquatics coordinator for the Battlement Mesa Activity Center in Parachute. We already have those drains, Bargas said.The owner of the Roadway Inn in New Castle off Highway 6 & 24 which was originally built as a Comfort Inn in 2004, said he wasnt really aware of the legislation, but believed the indoor pool at his motel was in compliance.Were OK the pool is open, said owner Jesse Ratajczak of New Castle.Officials from the public pool in Carbondale were unavailable for comment.For more information, contact the CPSC at http://www.cpsc.gov./whatsnew.html#pool.
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Garfield County libraries will host James Edward Mills in its second event of the spring lecture series for a virtual conversation about changing the faces of the outdoors.