Jan 31, 2023 - News

Utah swimming pools must follow a new safety rule — or close

Illustration of a caution sign on an inner tube floating on the water.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Salt Lake County health officials are planning to close more than 160 indoor pools that have not updated their chemical systems to comply with a new state safety rule.

What's happening: Pools now must have chemical dispensers wired so they automatically stop if water isn't pumping through the circulation system.

  • If chemicals don't flow into the pool with the water, they can build up and react to form poisonous chlorine gas.

Flashback: About 50 people started vomiting, coughing and bleeding from their noses at a Pleasant Grove pool in 2019 after a pump malfunctioned, allowing a buildup of chlorine gas that witnesses described as yellow bubbles when the pump started working again.

  • Dozens of swimmers were hospitalized.

Details: The state enacted the new requirements in 2020, giving pool owners until Tuesday to upgrade their systems.

  • The rule applies to most pools at apartment and condo complexes, HOAs, hotels, schools, gyms and public rec centers — but not backyard and in-home pools.
  • All owners received notices by email and mail, and in person, during the past two years, as well as follow-up calls this month.

By the numbers: Of 649 winter and year-round pools that have county permits, about three-quarters are in compliance and can stay open.

  • County officials will start closing the other 163 tomorrow.
  • In early spring, inspections will begin on the 641 summer-use pools.

What's next: The county expects to close a few dozen each day for the next few weeks, a health department spokesperson told Axios.

Closures will be posted nightly on the department's website.


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