Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis





Action Plan for Wading Pools

The problems:

1. children are needlessly barred from the pool for long periods when it's draining (up to 6 times a day), potentially half the time the wading pools are open. Source: Reference

2. Toronto wading pools now have very high levels of chlorine and inexact chlorine measurement, so the risk of toxic compounds is increased. Source: Reference

3. wading pools have inappropriate staffing rules, leading to staff who are bored, often inattentive, and disconnected from the people who use the wading pools.

What has changed now:

As of May 1 2014, Public Health has the following obligations:

Ontario Public Health Standards 2008, Revised May 1, 2014

P.25: The board of health shall engage in knowledge exchange activities with public health practitioners, policy-makers, community partners, health care providers, and the public regarding factors that determine the health of the population and support effective public health practice....

P. 26: The board of health shall conduct program evaluations when new interventions are developed or implemented, or when there is evidence of unexpected operational issues or program results, to understand the linkages between inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes.

ACTION PLAN: a collaboration between Public Health and wading pool users (the public) to work on some solutions:

Since wading pools don't actually fall under Ontario's swimming pool regulations (source), we can try the Dutch method (see below) of seeing what works rather than mechanically following pre-set rules.

standing on drain
1. Wading pool drainage Test Sites:

(a) A publicly-run drain suction test at Toronto wading pools: In mid-June there will be a demonstration of drainage safety at two of Toronto's fill-and-drain wading pools. Public Health inspectors will be invited to see for themselves. After the wading pool has been filled, the drain will be opened and two community volunteers will stand on the anti-siphon drain cover, move around on it, and describe how it feels. Others can join them if they want to try it too. If there is a general agreement that the suction is harmless, Public Health will be asked to return to the sixty-year-old practice of letting children stay in the pools when the drains are fully or partly open.

(b) Replacing partial or complete draining with gradual water recirculation: Once it's been established that kids can stay in the pool when the drain is open, pool staff at five Toronto wading pool test sites will return to the technique of gradual water recirculation when the summer season begins. [The Test Sites will be Dufferin Grove, MacGregor, Healey Willan, Masaryk-Cowan, and Vermont Park.] Staff will set up an intermittent fill-and-drain pattern using the pool fill-hoses or sprinklers for fresh water intake and a partly open drain for releasing water. When the drains are open, staff will sweep the sand underwater through the holes in the drain-cover. Staff will monitor the chlorine levels and add more chlorine as needed. The wading pool water will be slowly diluted and clarified with fresh water, but it will never become freezing cold.

2. Testing water quality:

1. Chlorine levels: Wading pool staff at the five Test Site pools will be given higher-quality chlorine testers that register the maximum as well as the minumum chlorine levels in the wading pool
2. Bacteria levels: these will be tested three times each day
3. Levels of "disinfection By-Products" (DBPs) that are suspected of causing illness in swimmers: these will be tested three times each day initially, less after that if the levels are consistently low. Source: Reference
4. Reported occurrences of illness that may be related to wading pool water: pool users will be invited to report any such illnesses to the wading pool staff, if minor, and to be relayed to Public Health by their doctors, if major.

All this information will be publicly recorded. Public Health inspectors can monitor these results and discuss them as desired with park friends. At the end of July, a joint report of the results so far can be posted near park wading pools and on the web.

3. Staffing

Wading pool staff can return to doing traditional programming (poolside crafts and games) when the pools are not busy.

New Dutch law: "...one of the aims is to replace the current law, based on rules that specify devices, operating conditions, and quality parameters, by a law that specifies water quality only. Consequently, the operator of a swimming pool may choose any technology or combinations of technologies which results in the specified water quality. As an added benefit, this approach could encourage innovation in swimming-pool technologies." Source: MOVING FROM A MEANS-ORIENTED LAW TO A GOAL-ORIENTED SWIMMING-POOL LAW IN THE NETHERLANDS: TECHNOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES Appel P.W. Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Department of Chemical Engineering, Delft, The Netherlands. P.125

Wading pools in other countries

Murergaard playground in Copenhagen: "The little paddling pool is asphalted and is connected to a channel and spring on the upper part of the playground. In the summer a fire-hose is used to fill the steps with water, which falls down to the paddling pool. It takes a couple of hours to fill it. The water is then turned off and allowed to stay in the pool until it is emptied in the evening. The pool is encircled by a willow copse, where willow stems can be picked, for use in plaiting smaller fences, basket weaving etc."

Content last modified on November 10, 2014, at 04:33 AM EST