WINNIPEG — Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
Provincial health inspectors have temporarily shut down public pools and hot tubs 15 times since May after officials determined the water posed a health or safety risk to swimmers.
WHERE HEALTH VIOLATIONS HAVE OCCURREDManitoba now publicly posts information on pools and hot tubs that violate the health code. Here's a list of ones in Westman that have been temporarily closed since April:Date: May 14Place: YM/YWCA, Brandon.Problem: Hot tub violated water quality requirements.Date: May 17Place: Best Western semi-public whirlpool, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Failed to operate whirlpool in a manner that does not pose a health hazard.Date: May 17Place: Best Western semi-public pool, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Failed to operate a swimming pool in a manner that does not pose a health hazard.Date: May 2Place: Redwood Motor Inn, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Not enough disinfectant in the pool.Date: June 27Place: Redwood Motor Inn, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Not enough disinfectant in the pool.Date: July 23Place: Best Western semi-public swimming pool, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Pool water did not meet water clarity requirements.Date: July 23Place: Best Western semi-public whirlpool, Brandon.Problem: Insanitary conditions.Date: July 25Place: Valley Motor Lodge semi-public whirlpool, Minnedosa.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Operating a pool where hazard conditions exist and present a risk of injury.Date: July 25Place: Valley Motor Lodge, semi-public swimming pool, Minnedosa.Problem: Insanitary conditions. Operating a pool with inadequate water quality and where hazard conditions exist and present a risk of injury.» Source: Health Protection Report, Manitoba Healt
Health inspection reports show that inspectors ordered eight hot tubs and five pools closed in fitness facilities, apartment blocks and hotels across Manitoba between May and August.
Some facilities were closed multiple times due to insanitary conditions.
Peter Parys, director of Manitoba’s environmental health services, said inspectors only close pools or whirlpools in “serious” instances in which they worry it could pose a danger or make someone sick. He said facilities are not allowed to reopen until an inspector verifies the problem has been resolved.
To date, Parys said, there have been no reports of anyone becoming ill from swimming in a pool or hot tub.
The province started to publicly release information on recreational water quality violations in April, when the city and provincial inspection branches merged. Now, Parys said, citizens can review any facility public pools, tattoo parlours and restaurants found to have insanitary conditions.
“It has to be a serious enough level we think it has to be closed,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s information that people could use the way they see fit. They have to make their own decisions or judgements.”
There are 635 public pools and hot tubs province-wide. Year-round facilities are inspected three times a year and seasonal facilities are inspected before they open for the summer. Parys said inspectors watch for signs the water quality is amiss, or the pool has potential hazards, such as no depth markings or an area where swimmers are likely to slip and fall.
Last year, provincial inspectors temporarily closed 84 public pools and hot tubs — up from 67 in 2010.
Parys said the number of violations recorded so far this summer is not unusual, as inspectors conduct more visits to seasonal facilities prior to summer.
Inspectors test the PH level of a pool or hot tub to determine if there are adequate chemicals and disinfectants in the water. Pool operators are expected to test their water for bacteria and keep records of their own monthly water test so it can be reviewed by health inspectors.
Parys said inspectors sometimes take their own water samples to be submitted for further testing. They also respond to any complaints. “If somebody said, ‘I was at such-and-such a whirlpool and I got a rash on my skin’ we would be there very quickly,” he said.
Maintaining the proper level of chemicals and disinfectants in a hot tub can be particularly tricky, since chlorine breaks down more easily in warm water and the number of bathers fluctuates frequently, which uses up disinfectant.
Lyle Rousseau, manager of operations for Shapes Winnipeg, said inspectors temporarily closed the Pembina Highway facility’s whirlpool this spring when they found the chemical level slightly exceeded the guidelines.
“Our chlorine was just a little too high,” he said.
Brandon’s Best Western hotel assistant manager Shiv Kher said the hotel has been having problems with a device that controls the hot tub. She said the whirlpool is currently closed, but the hope is it will be reopened when inspectors return this week.
“We try to maintain everything as it’s supposed to be,” she said.
Parys said swimmers can reduce the odds of developing a rash or other ailment from pools and hot tubs by showering before and after they enter the water to avoid “introducing” bacteria from their skin.
“It’s not going to eliminate all the risks all the time, but it’s a good precautionary measure,” he said.
Pools and whirlpools account for more than half of the total numbers of facilities that have been shut down due to insanitary conditions since April. Provincial inspectors have also ordered 10 restaurants and one tattoo parlour to temporarily close due to health code violations.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 13, 2012