Health Department begins inspections at swimming facilities
5/20/2014, 4:28 p.m.
Will County's 128 public swimming facilities and 12 bathing beaches traditionally open for business during the Memorial Day weekend, and the Will County Health Department is working to ensure each venue is ready.
Will County Environmental Health personnel currently inspect each local recreational water venue to ensure compliance with the Illinois Swimming Facility Act and code. The state inspection form for public pools lists 80 items requiring attention, and the inspection for every local beach facility includes 42 items.
Although the state requires just one annual inspection, provisions of the Will County Public Swimming Facility Ordinance authorize additional visits designed to ensure health and safety. Outdoor public pools are typically inspected by the Health Department every other week; evaluated with the help of a 24-item inspection form.
Indoor water facilities are inspected at least once every 60 days during warmer weather and monthly once temperatures begin to fall. Beaches are inspected at least twice monthly during summer.
Will County sanitarians spent 567 work hours inspecting public pools, spas, wading pools, water slides, spray pads and lazy river facilities during 2013. Another 82 work hours were spent doing beach inspections and sampling. The amount of inspection time devoted to each facility hinges on several factors.
"Facilities with multiple features, like lazy rivers, water slides and spas, require additional inspection time, according to Will County Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Bilotta. "Each feature warrants its own inspection. We visit all 128 area facilities regularly, but those locations include 222 features that must be inspected. The program requires lots of staff time, but it's worth the investment because it helps to reduce the potential for recreational water illnesses and injury too."
Americans will make more than 375 million trips to recreational water venues during 2014. Unfortunately, many of those visits will result in an unpleasant illness. More than 60 percent of illnesses linked to swimming pools, water parks and beaches are caused by cryptosporidium, a chlorine-resistant parasite that can produce diarrhea, cramps, nausea and fever.
Most people with healthy immune systems will recover in a few days without treatment. However, dehydration caused by recreational water illness can be serious for infants, children, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immunity.
For more information about avoiding recreational water illnesses, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming. For more information about the Health Department's Swimming Facilities and Beaches Program, visit the Environmental Health pages at www.willcountyhealth.org http://www.willcountyhealth.org/ .