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No dog paddling in Oak Harbor pool this year

Five-year-old Rhett Molina takes a break from swim lessons at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool. North Whidbey Park and Recreation District recently canceled the popular dog swim  this year because of maintenance changes.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Five-year-old Rhett Molina takes a break from swim lessons at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool. North Whidbey Park and Recreation District recently canceled the popular dog swim this year because of maintenance changes.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A popular event that attracts both human and canine swimmers will be put on hold for one year.

The annual dog swim at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool has been canceled for 2012. It is expected to take place in 2013.

Leaders at the North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District decided to delay a maintenance project for one year. Pool officials were able to hold the popular dog swim only because they would drain the water after the event so the pool could be painted.

Neil Romney, interim director for the park district, said that it is expensive to drain the water every year and it would be best to do the maintenance every other year.

“We’re not draining the pool, which means we’re not having the dog swim,” Romney said.

He offered a laundry list of reasons for not draining the pool this year.

The park and recreation district would have to pay a sewage fee and it would cost the district to refill the pool, re-heat and treat the water. The pool also loses revenue because it is closed for eight days.

“You’re looking at many thousands of dollars,” Romney said. He added the last session of swim lessons of the year has to be truncated because of the annual closure.

It turns out there is no regulation regarding how often water in a public pool should be replaced, rather it’s up to staff at individual facilities to make that determination. Standards about water quality pertain to chemicals used to treat water.

From a public health standpoint, “There simply isn’t a need,” said Jill Wood, environmental health director for Island County. The chemicals and a pool’s filtration system are enough to keep the water safe for swimmers without having to endure the considerable expense of refilling a pool.

In Anacortes, the staff of the Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center changes half of the water in the facility’s pool each year.

John Thomas, facilities manager for the Fidalgo facility, said he does that to control the amount of total dissolved solids that accumulate in a pool. Those solids come from swimmers, often from the oils that accumulate on their skin.

He noted that pools in California often go seven or eight years before replacing the water and hotels are notorious for going many years without replenishing the water supply.

In Everett, workers at the Forest Park Swim Center replace drains on their pool every three years. That’s when the workers re-paint the pool, said Marianne Pugsley, recreation coordinator at the swim center. She said  standards concerning replacing water fall all across the board. It ultimately depends on how well a pool is maintained that determines how often the water is replaced.

Romney said the Vanderzicht Memorial Pool will have to be drained next year so workers can repainted the pool again.

Even though the dog swim is canceled for the year, the pool will have to close for four days for other maintenance. The pool is scheduled to close Thursday, Aug. 30 and re-open Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Romney said the park district will offer the dog swim for canine owners when the pool closes for a week at the end of August in 2013.

 

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