Saturday, May 23, 2009

pool grates cost about $200 million per saved life

Two bits of bad news from our local pool yesterday:

1.) Their website and literature indicate that there is a 10% discount for any passes purchased prior to May 29. But when I made the purchase, the computer and then the worker decided that the discount does not apply to the 5th and 6th passes we bought beyond the "family (of four) pass".

2.) The pool will open a week later than expected. (Wouldn't it be nice to swim over the Memorial Day weekend?) The catalyst was new federal regulations. Whether Jeff Parks responded in a timely manner to the regs, I don't know.

Aside from the unconstitutional nature of these regulations, they're rather expensive. This has resulted in delays, higher taxes, and closed pools.

Here are the details from Derek Poore in the C-J...

A new federal safety law is closing pools across the region and delaying the openings of others.

Because of the law, pools at four Kentucky state parks and another in Jeffersonville, Ind., will not open this Memorial Day weekend and four pools in Bullitt County may close for the summer.

Pool facilities are scrambling to make last-minute upgrades to comply with the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act [named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker who died after being trapped underwater by a spa drain], which took effect in December and requires drains to be covered to prevent children from being trapped by suction....

Pools at hotels, apartment and condominium complexes, country clubs, camps, schools and public parks also are affected by the law. Pools at private residences are not.

Of 525 pools in Jefferson County, some are rushing to complete upgrades, others will open later than usual and still others will close entirely, said Mike Ballard, a Metro Health Department engineer who oversees compliance with the new law.

"There is no one quick way to fix every pool," Ballard said, because upgrades to older pools require more labor and more money than newer pools do....

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. nine children died...nationally between 1997 and 2007 after being trapped by suction.

Were all of those children in a pool with lifeguards? Assuming so, we have a very expensive regulation that might have prevented nine deaths.

The safety upgrades come when many pools have been closed because of budget constraints. Last year, pools at five Louisville sites -- Breslin Park, Hazelwood Elementary, Shelby Park, Watterson Elementary and Western High -- were closed because of city budget cuts.

The four remaining pools -- Algonquin, Nelson Hornbeck, Camp Taylor and Sun Valley -- will be open following $250,000 in off-season repair work -- most of it because of the new law....

Sara Kraft, director of the aquatics center in Jeffersonville, Ind., said the repairs can be costly. The custom grates there cost $13,000 and took a while to come in. The center will open May 30 as a result. She said older pools might have to spend more than $60,000 to upgrade their drains.

Here are some vague numbers, so let's speculate about the cost: 525 pools at an average cost of $36,000 would be almost $2 million in Jefferson County alone. Jefferson County has 1/300th of the U.S. population. With nine deaths over the decade, the law may have saved as many as .01 people. So, we're spending about $200 million per saved life.


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