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Copyright 2017 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)


CHARLOTTE - Mecklenburg County allows public swimming pools to open for the summer without an inspection - something three other large counties in North Carolina won't allow.

Mecklenburg County does follow state law that allows permits for pools to open without an inspection as long as they are checked within two months.

But officials in Forsyth, Guilford and Wake counties all say they won't let a pool open for the summer without someone checking for such things as exposed wires, proper chlorine levels, adequate safety equipment and proper drains.

More than 350 of the 1,400 public swimming pools in Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte area haven't been inspected so far in 2017, The Charlotte Observer reported.

That number included six pools that were shut down last summer because of safety problems but are on track to reopen without an immediate inspection this year.

"We're investigating that," Bill Hardister, the manager of the Mecklenburg County Environmental Health Division, told the newspaper Friday.

One of those pools, at First Ward Place apartments, was open Friday even though it was closed last summer when inspectors discovered no chlorine in the water, algae and mildew growing on pool walls, and inadequate records on chemical and drain check. It hasn't been inspected since reopening.

The Observer's review found that in 2016, at least 21 swimming pools, spas and wading pools opened without inspection and were eventually shut down or put on notice for major violations. These facilities were permitted to operate for an average of 34 days, the Observer found, before being closed by the county or put on notice for violations.

A county permit allows a pool to operate but the county doesn't track the date it actually opens.

Inspectors are supposed to check various indicators of pool safety, including water quality, pool maintenance equipment, restrooms and locker rooms, pool suction hazards, and life-saving devices on site. Pools with health or safety violations are given demerits, which are weighted by the severity of the problem. Demerits and the type of violation dictates whether a pool can stay open.

In Forsyth County, inspector Ken Bowyer said officials began inspecting all pools before they open for the season 10 years ago.

"We would be issuing immediate suspensions (later in the season) and I would find two, three, sometimes four critical violations," said Bowyer, the manager of the Forsyth County pool permitting and inspections program.

"After a handful of those, we decided if we're going to be serious, we have to make sure there's compliance met on the front end," he said.

Mecklenburg County posts its pool inspections on its website.

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May 28, 2017


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