NYC Pools Pose Threats

NEW YORK, NY (TIP):Audit Discovers Trip Dangers, Moldy Locker Rooms, and Little Evidence Water Quality Was Properly Tested at Park Facilities

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu announced August 23 that a new audit has found the Parks Department is not doing enough to remove hazards and ensure safe water conditions at the City’s public pools. “Our kids shouldn’t be swimming at their own risk,” Comptroller Liu said. “The Parks Department was already aware of many of the pool hazards we found in this audit but was far too slow to fix them. The agency needs to ensure we have clean and safe pools for our children.”

Surprise Inspections Find Problems

In July and August 2012, Comptroller Liu’s auditors made surprise visits to 39 pools in the five boroughs and found dozens of problems at 29 of them. The hazards included slip or trip dangers such as exposed metal sticking up from poolside decks, loose pool ladders, latches missing from gates to children’s wading pools, moldy locker rooms, and, in one case, an unsecured gate leading to an empty abandoned pool with a diving platform. When the auditors returned in July 2013 to follow up on 38 of the most serious problems, they found that many remained unrepaired, including a missing latch on the gate to the Dry Dock children’s pool in Manhattan. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had previously issued violations to the agency for the missing latch in 2011 and 2012. But instead of fixing the broken gate, which created a hazard for small children, the Parks Department assigned a lifeguard to stand by the gate.

Water Quality Tests

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The Parks Department doesn’t keep records noting whether water quality tests are done as required, particularly for children’s pools. The agency requires hourly water tests, increasing to every halfhour when the air temperature rises above 80 degrees. Supervisors must sign off on the tests to verify that proper water quality testing was conducted. However, when auditors asked for water quality records for 10 days at 30 sampled pools, the agency came up short. There should have been 2,288 signatures documenting water quality tests on the daily reports, but 43 percent of them were missing. Children’s pools lacked the most. Of the 736 signatures that should have been on the daily reports at 10 children’s pools, 98 percent were missing. At five of the 10 kids’ pools, there were no signatures. In one instance, at Wagner pool in Manhattan, auditors saw a worker trying to test chlorine levels in the children’s wading pool using water from the intermediate pool. Auditors asked him to redo the test and found high chlorine levels in the wading pool. Staff then evacuated children from the pool, which was closed for the remainder of the auditors’ visit. The Parks Department oversees 93 pools at 66 facilities. Before the start of each season, the agency must inspect pools and correct any hazardous conditions it finds.

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