Law drains hundreds of Cook County pools

(AP file image)

September 30, 2011 4:24:29 PM PDT
Hundreds of park district, municipal, school and hotel pools in the Chicago area will be closed Saturday for failing to comply with a safety regulations pertaining to drain upgrades.

An Illinois law requiring the drain upgrades goes into effect on October 1. It will close approximately 500 pools in the state. More than half of those are in Cook County.

List of all the non-compliant pools set to close

The closure will impact several schools, including pools at Vernon Hills and Libertyville high schools. Both are in District 128.

"What we say to the kids is that we're sorry and we understand that magnitude of disruption," Superintendent Prentiss Lea, School District 128, said.

Superintendent Lea said his office initially dropped the ball, but the faults the state for poor communication.

"Had the communication been better on this in terms of targeting superintendents and/or district administrators, we probably would not be having this discussion right now," Prentiss Lea said.

"The school definitely could have started the process a lot sooner. However, I believe that the Illinois Dept of Public Health, there needs to be some accountability there," Kim Sturonas, Libertville High School parent, said.

Many of the non-compliant facilities ABC7 called on Friday said they were not aware of the midnight deadline. The Illinois Department of Public Health said six notices have been sent out in the past three years.

Fixing the drain issues could take weeks or months for District 128. Local legislators have asked for an extension, which has not been granted. Until it's fixed, the swim teams will at other schools.

"Instead of maybe getting the opportunity of two to five hours of pool time a day, we're decreased quite a bit," Briant Kelly, athletic director at Libertyville High School, said.

Several gyms have also had to close their pools.

"If there's an issue with the pool and things like that, it's going to be really a damper on my winter," Alicia Williams, Fitness Club member, said.

Travelers won't get to take a dip, either at several hotel pools, including Country Inn & Suites in Matteson and the Courtyard by Marriott in Arlington Heights.

Under the law, all pools must have new drains or covers designed to keep swimmers from getting trapped by powerful suction. The state regulation follows a 2008 federal law.

Melaney Arnold of the Illinois Department of Public Health says about 10 percent of the state's 4,000 public pools aren't in compliance with the new law.

Statement from CPS

"The safety of CPS students is our top priority. CPS is working very closely with IDPH to be in full compliance with all applicable federal and state laws.

None of the pools listed by IDPH is active at this time.

Nearly all of the pools identified by the IDPH are scheduled for upgrades and are in the design, permitting or construction phases of the renovation work."

Load Comments