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Frances Meadows aquatic center's pools get new drains to comply with federal law
All should be operational by Sunday
Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center division manager Jone Taylor shows the new dome-shaped drain covers that are being installed. The covers are being replaced to comply with a December 2007 federal law. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Having a hard time getting all wet at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center?

No worries — all the pools should be operational by Sunday.

Gainesville’s Parks and Recreation Department drained the center’s 10-lane competition pool Tuesday to change the pool’s drain covers.

The pool should be fit for the freestyle stroke by Sunday, said Jone Taylor, division manager for the center. Until then, avid swimmers can lap it up in the center’s four-lane therapy pool, which was drained and refilled earlier in the week for the same reason, Taylor said.

The center is replacing the drain covers on all of its pools to come into compliance with a federal law passed in December 2007 requiring all commercial pools have dome-shaped drain covers to reduce the chance of people getting stuck in drains.

Taylor said the center’s pools, with gravity-fed drains instead of suction drains, do not pose a risk of entrapment even without the domed covers, but the federal law still applies.

The deadline for compliance was Dec. 19, 2008, but the center had to wait for the covers to be manufactured. The specially made covers did not make it to Gainesville until late last week, Taylor said.

"We had to be in compliance by Dec. 19, and nobody could be because they didn’t manufacture the covers," Taylor said.

Crews worked to get the covers installed Tuesday on the center’s outdoor Splash Zone, but Taylor said making the change to the 10-lane pool could take more time.

The 377,000 gallon pool would likely take hours to drain, she said, because if the heated water was drained quickly, there could be a chance of cracking the pool’s shell.

The changes cost approximately $22,000, Taylor said, but the department was able to save water and money by recycling water.

Tuesday, the department planned to drain the water from the 10-lane pool and into the outdoor pools, Taylor said. Recycling the water — about 200,000 gallons of it — saved the department more than $3,000.

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