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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 27, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Wading pools closed

Strict law deprives kids of summer play

Ridiculous! The Virginia Graham Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was enacted to prevent drowning by body/hair entrapment from the suction of recirculating water through main drains. It will possibly save a few lives. But it was politically backed (who could vote against it?, tightly worded (no allowance for common-sense solutions) and the cost of compliance is not addressed, except for the hint of federal-assistance funds from a presently unfunded source.

Now city kids will be deprived from the pleasure of wading pools because city parks personnel find it easier and prudent not to challenge the King County Health Department storm troopers and their rigid interpretations and enforcement of the law [“Around the Northwest: 11 wading pools closed over safety,” NWThursday, May 21].

Permitting fees amount to at least $346 and $173.39 per hour for extended plan reviews and inspections. Costs for a plumber, electrician and an engineer add up to several thousand dollars per pool. And the hassle cost to other owners and operators of pools, including our condominium association, aren’t included.

Simpler methods to avoid entrapment could be implemented at almost no cost.

Pumps and fountains could be turned off during operating hours and the filtration done separately. Any sort of construction that reduced the velocity of the water and separated drain openings would do. Boulders around the drain, a circle of side-placed concrete blocks, an oversized additional drain cover or other American-ingenuity-inspired methods could allow the kids to safely play.

There needs to be some way for common sense to be exercised to meet the intent of the law without the outlandish costs. The federal law and King County Health Department’s enforcement tenacity are not improving my quality of life, nor that of the neighborhood kids.

— Terry Slaton, Federal Way

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