Aug 11, 2022 - News

Short staffed: Pool closures called a crisis in Des Moines

Illustration of "Help Wanted" written at the bottom of a pool.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Ongoing pool closures are a public health crisis, Des Moines Parks and Recreation board member Loyd Ogle tells Axios.

  • He's calling on the city to devise a new plan to resolve staffing shortages.

Why it matters: In addition to recreation and physical activity, pools offer relief from extreme heat.

  • Low-income families are being disproportionately affected, Ogle contends.

Catch up fast: Despite increasing wages and boosting recruitment efforts last year, DSM's aquatic staffing struggles resulted in rotational closure of splash facilities.

The big picture: The problem is national in scope and may continue because fewer people have taken lifeguard training in recent years, the Guardian reports.

  • Pandemic and labor market factors are attributing to the employment pinch.

Zoom in: The problem has gotten worse in recent weeks as student workers prepare to return for fall classes.

  • This month Ankeny limited the capacity at Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center.

What they're saying: Des Moines resident Patty Wengert asked the City Council in June to make aquatic staffing a bigger priority.

  • The parks board issued a letter of support for the city's recruitment efforts but the message is clear that more must be done before next season, Ogle told us.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more