Testing the Waters: Taking Action Investigation

WHNT News 19 wants to make sure the places you and your kids go to cool off during the summer is safe.

For weeks, WHNT News 19 worked undercover to collect water samples at public pools and splash pads all over the Tennessee Valley. The water was checked for two things- total coliform and E. coli.

We mapped out nine locations:

  1. Royal Avenue Pool, Florence
  2. Athens City Pool, Athens
  3. Dublin Park Pool, Madison
  4. Carrie Matthews Recreation Center Pool, Decatur
  5. Scottsboro City Pool, Scottsboro
  6. Jane K. Lowe Children’s Fountain, Huntsville
  7. Bridge Street Town Centre Interactive Fountains, Huntsville
  8. Brahan Spring Park Natatorium, Huntsville
  9. Brahan Spring Park Splash Pad, Huntsville

Over a period of four weeks, we secretly collected samples from each location. Enersolv Corporation in Decatur, which is certified by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to do bacteriological water testing, checked each sample for total coliform and E. coli.

WHNT News 19 purposely didn’t reveal the locations to Enersolv, to ensure fair results. Of the nine locations, eight checked out fine. The following locations were negative for total coliform and E. coli:

  1. Royal Avenue Pool, Florence
  2. Athens City Pool, Athens
  3. Dublin Park Pool, Madison
  4. Carrie Matthews Recreation Center Pool, Decatur
  5. Scottsboro City Pool, Scottsboro
  6. Jane K. Lowe Children’s Fountain, Huntsville
  7. Bridge Street Town Centre Interactive Fountains, Huntsville
  8. Brahan Spring Park Natatorium, Huntsville

However, an issue surfaced with the Brahan Spring Park Splash Pad in Huntsville, which is a brand new facility that opened in June 2013.

After the Brahan Spring Park Splash Pad twice tested positive for total coliform, WHNT News 19 showed the results of our undercover water testing to Huntsville city managers responsible for the maintenance of the facility.

“Since this fountain has been open, we monitor it,” says Mick Roney, Swimming Activities Coordinator for the city of Huntsville. “Not only do we test the chemicals, but we also take a look at what’s going on and what the people are doing here.”

Roney says when the splash pad first opened, it was packed with hundreds of visitors every day. While that high turnover can have an adverse effect on chemistry and operations, Roney isn’t concerned moving forward.

“We meet the industry standards,” says Roney. “The industry standards require that filtration rates change four times a day. We change ten times a day. All the water in our tank goes through a filtration system ten times a day.”

In addition to that, Roney says the chlorine and pH levels are checked four times a day. That’s done by Roney himself or one of two other certified pool operators.

“I’m quite satisfied with the fact that we’ve been able to keep it safe. The important thing to us is safe water.”

If anyone sees anything at the splash pad that they have questions or concerns about, Roney says to call them and they can respond in just a few minutes to address it. The number is (256) 564-8026. It’s also posted at the splash pad.

Roney says if any contamination is found, their policy would be to close the splash for at least 24 hours and shock treat the system.

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