Pool to open with improvements

Published 6:41 am Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Austin Municipal Pool, which opens at 1 p.m. Monday, will undergo $40,000 in improvements over 2008-09, with money being applied to new shower heads, hydrants and the tot pool, according to Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department staff.

Showers will under construction this year, said administrative assistant Kim Underwood, who added that the tot pool will open one week late because of legislative mandates requiring drain covers and other adjustments following the death of a 6-year-old Edina girl from injuries caused by the drain from a wadding pool in St. Louis Park last June.

The Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act, signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty May 16, requires licensure and inspection of all public pools in the state, as well as immediate and future changes to pools that ensure safety of pool users, according to a release by the Minnesota Department of Health.

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Effective immediately, pool operators must conduct and document daily inspections of drain covers and grates every day the pool is open for use.

“If any drain cover is found to be loose, broken or missing, the pool must be closed immediately,” the document says.

Underwood said staff would also be taking immediate action on new drain cover requirements, which state that they must be installed with screws that meet manufacturer specifications.

Effective July 1, public pool owners must also annually certify to the commissioner of health that all outlets, except for unblockable drains, have covers stamped by the manufacturer in compliance with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American National Standards Institute standards. By that date, operators must also ensure that covers, grates and mounting rings have been properly installed and are not broken or loose.

By Jan. 1, 2009, all pools four feet deep or less must have an unblockable drain, gravity outlet or at least two suction outlets specially installed.

If all mandates have not been met by Jan. 2, pools are subject to closure or enforcement requirements.

Similar drain provisions for pools deeper than four feet are also outlined for January 2011, with similar consequences.

Underwood said the $40,000 would be allocated to these efforts, in hopes all improvement goals would be met by the end of 2009.

“It depends how far the money takes us,” she said.

Park and Rec director Dennis Maschka was not available for comment.

According to recreation supervisor Valerie Pitzen, it’s all systems go for summer activities, including a volleyball league and archery program.

“Basically everything (except for volleyball) starts Monday,” she said.