RCC pool closing due to Federal Law


First Posted: 12/19/2008

The indoor pool at Reeves Community Center will be closed today on a temporary basis in response to a new federal law requiring special drain covers for such facilities.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which went into effect today, is designed to prevent serious injury or deaths caused by the powerful suction of drains in pools. Virginia Graeme Baker was a 7-year-old girl who died as a result of her body being trapped by a drain in a hot tub in McClean, Va.. She was the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker.
Mount Airy officials decision to temporarily close the local pool was mainly a result of a lack of communication from the federal level about the new law and a shortage of parts to comply with the regulation, said city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander.
Alexander said RCCs indoor pool will remain closed until approved drain covers, which are relatively inexpensive, can be obtained and installed.
My hope is that we are talking about a couple of days, she said, and the impact will be minimal.
In addition to other citizens who utilize the facility, it is used by the swim teams of three local schools.
Its kind of unfortunate, the recreation official added, saying the situation is affecting hundreds of thousands of pools nationwide.
Equipment that meets the criteria to achieve drain compliance at Reeves Community Center is on back order. It could arrive as soon as Saturday, or as late as Jan. 4, Alexander advised the city Board of Commissioners at a meeting Thursday night.
The new law requires that all public pools and spas be equipped with drain covers, grates and/or systems that meet the new standards, as certified by a design professional.
Local officials were made aware of the impending regulation only recently, Alexander said. The fact that the state and federal governments are handling the situation differently apparently has added to the confusion. North Carolina will not begin regulating the new compliance standards until 2010.
However, Alexander said the locality is compelled to comply with the nationwide mandate, and Commissioner Todd Harris agreed Thursday night that we dont want to knock heads with the feds.
Alexander indicated that the city views safety as a serious matter and the publics patience will be appreciated until the equipment is installed.
Some communities are having to deal with 30 to 50 pools in meeting the regulation, compared to just one facility in Mount Airy, she said.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected], or at 719-1924.

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