City makes improvements to pools

Published 11:59 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

Andalusia’s Coleman and Cooper Pools recently had some retrofitting drain work done to comply with a federal safety pool act passed last December.

The safety act, known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, was named after the daughter of Nancy and James Baker and the granddaughter of former secretary of state James Baker III, who died in a tragic accident in June 2002 when a suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water.

Since the act was passed, all public pools are now required to have a sensor that will shut off the pump creating the suction or to increase the surface area of the drain cover at the bottom of the pool.

Andalusia director of leisure services Dwight Mikel said both pools are fixed to date, but the city will be looking further for better “solutions.”

“I want to be sure that participants are totally safe and we’re going to follow the letter of the law,” Mikel said. “Most of this involves the shallow areas where kids can sit down and create entrapment.

“The work we’re doing at the pools is relative to a federal act and part of it is due to wear and tear on our filters and we’re making those improvements.”

Mikel said at Coleman Pool, a pressure relief shut off valve was installed for right now instead of a sensor.

“It’s a valve between the drain and the pump, so when it senses a vacuum it automatically shuts the pump off,” he said. “Once the vacuum shuts off, the obstruction floats away and the pump corrects itself.”

At the Cooper Pool, Mikel said the fix wasn’t “cheap” because of the drain and filtration systems.

“Copper Pool has two drains in the floor and they are separated far enough you can’t get the suction,” he said. “It also has an open filter area so what happens is the pool water at the bottom of the pool is not sucked directly out of the pool through the pump into the filters.”

Mikel said the work at the Coleman Pool cost approximately $1,200, and between $2,200-$2,300 at Cooper Pool.

At Cooper Pool, the city expanded the drainage surface area. Mikel said there has not been a problem with either pool and that they are perfectly safe to swim in.

“We haven’t had a problem and Coleman was completed this week,” Mikel said. “Once again, we’re still trying to figure out the best way to do it. But, we have done something that meets the criteria of the law that allows us to go ahead and open and we’ll go in and use what we’ve learned to go back in and do some more retrofitting.”