On Your Side: Not all public pools in the Ozarks are routinely inspected

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 4:47 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Not all pools in the Ozarks are routinely inspected. That’s the finding of the latest On Your Side Investigation.

How do you know if the water is safe for you and your family? It boils down to where you take your family for a swim.

Inspectors with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will frequent Springfield’s six outdoor public pools, but it’s not like that all across the Ozarks.

Eric Marcol and his team of inspectors with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will spend most of the summer poolside. They’ll run tests to make sure the water chemistry is just right.

“If it’s too acidic or too basic it can cause the red eyes,” he said.

Marcol throws a disk in -- can he see it at the bottom of the pool?

That’s a yes.

“This pool is safe to be in,” he said.

But if a pool fails this visual test, he might shut it down.

“We consider that an imminent health hazard and we’ll ask them to close so we can get the chemistry correct and we can see the bottom of the pool,” he said.

These test results are not published, but you can ask for them.

“You can rest assured if the pool is open, then it’s testing within range, and the water is clean and safe. We stay on top of it. We don’t let it get out of whack,” said Jenny Fillmer Edwards, with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department inspectors will also test semi-public pools. Those are pools at apartments, hotels, and neighborhoods.

On Your Side checked the surrounding counties like Christian, Taney, Stone, Webster, Dallas, and Lawrence. We discovered, most health departments do not do routine inspections. But will do them by request.

“A lot of the smaller counties, don’t have that resource. Don’t have the manpower to check all of those. The nice thing is, whenever we have had a concern and reached out to them, they’ve been very helpful,” said Matt Crouse with Nixa Parks and Recreation.

Most on-site pool operators have certifications and get the job done. They usually test the water every few hours.

The city of Branson has an ordinance saying pools are regularly inspected by the health department.

If you have a problem with a pool like you spot a safety concern or the water is not clear, talk to the operator, and you can file a complaint with your local county health department.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com