SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield public pools opened Thursday just in time for the holiday, but first they were inspected by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
The department already inspects public pools and hotel pools on a monthly basis, but now subdivision and apartment pools can be added to that list.
Usually just checking up on the half dozen public pools and hundreds of hotel pools in the county is a big enough undertaking. That job is about to get bigger and not because of an increase in manpower but rather an ethical obligation.
"There's 24 that are pretty bad and there's 6 more that had a lot of water damage."
Still, it was water that saved the rest of Gordon Elliott's Chardonnay apartment complex when it caught fire several months ago.
"You just never know what's going to happen," says Elliott, such as another headache while he's still dealing with this one. This time water is the problem, not the solution. Well, not his problem.
"If there's a problem it's public health but I haven't heard about a problem."
That's why Elliott is confused. He says he's been perfectly satisfied with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department's practice of inspecting apartment and subdivision pools strictly on a complaint basis. But that's about to change.
"We would have liked to be doing it all along, but it gets kind of busy and crazy," explains Janet Hicks, a public health inspector.
Essentially the health department had one person to inspect all of the public and hotel pools in the city of Springfield last year. This year there will be 10 people, but because of the all-encompassing inspection schedule it's anticipated that will add several hundred pools to the summer.
Hicks says no one new has been hired; current hires are simply taking on more duties. She acknowledges it will be a challenge, and not everyone is trained yet.
"We have a lot of people working on this online module and it takes a lot of time and with everything else going on the and the phone ringing and people coming in-- it's really hard to even get through the training," Hicks tells us.
Elliott doesn't mind more frequent visits; he just doesn't think they're necessary, especially when he has more burning concerns.
"It doesn't help the pool, the view," Elliott says, pointing at the charred portion of his building.
Elliott is also concerned about there eventually being a fee to do more inspections. The letter the health department sent all apartment and neighborhood pools two weeks ago says there will be no fee at this time. But a study is being conducted on the process, and that will be completed some time after July first so things could change.
When apartment and subdivision pool inspections were conducted on a complaint basis the health department responded to about a dozen a year.