As a precaution, the Oak Ridge Outdoor Swimming Pool closed for the season a day early this year after a parent reported that their child had been diagnosed with cryptosporidium, a germ that causes intestinal tract problems.
But a test for cryptosporidium in water samples taken from the pool on Monday came back negative on Wednesday, Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick said. The results were negative both on the pool itself and on the spring that feeds it.
Hetrick said cryptosporidium occurs naturally in bodies of water, and it is chlorine-resistant. The child who was diagnosed with it had been at the Oak Ridge pool a few days earlier, Hetrick said.
“So, as a precaution, we chose to close the pool on Sunday just to make sure no one else was exposed if that was the source,” he said.
But, to the best of his knowledge, the cryptosporidium did not come from the Oak Ridge Outdoor Swimming Pool, Hetrick said.
Sunday was the last day the pool was scheduled to be open this year. It’s closing about a week earlier than normal due to the new school schedule, the new balanced calendar that goes into effect this school year.
Hetrick said the outdoor pool, which is considered one of the largest in the nation, normally closes the Sunday before school starts. Under the new balanced calendar, which was endorsed in a survey and approved by education officials last year, Oak Ridge Schools started Monday, August 3.
There is a petition drive that started Tuesday and already has more than 600 supporters that asks the city to keep the pool open until Labor Day, the first weekend in September—or “at least have it remain open evenings and weekends while school is in session.”
But Hetrick said the city has previously tried leaving the pool open after school starts, but attendance was very low and it was hard to keep enough lifeguards. Most lifeguards are students.
City officials have recently said there are some significant repairs on the horizon at the pool. For example, Hetrick said Wednesday, there are four filters that need to be replaced two at a time, and they cost about $75,000 each, or roughly $300,000 total.
There is an admission fee at the pool, which is on Providence Road near Oak Ridge High School, and it helps cover the operating costs. Although the percentage varies from year to year, Hetrick said admission fees usually cover about 40 percent of the costs. The 2016 budget includes $266,657 to operate the outdoor pool.
The pool was originally built in 1944 by the Corps of Engineers, underwent major renovations in 1992 and 1993, and reopened for the 1994 summer season.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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