BY JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
To keep feces out of the pool, all diapered children at Bowling Green City Pool are now required to wear reusable swim shorts.
In the past, disposable swim nappies were required, but they tend to fill up with water as soon as kids enter the pool — leaving no saturation for leaks from non-potty trained swimmers.
“They don’t contain the feces very well,” Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said Tuesday during a meeting of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board.
Fitness and water manager Josh Chatfield was more descriptive.
“Poop escapes the diapers – up the back,” he said, drawing a groan from the board.
Otley and Chatfield said the pool will provide free reusable swim trunks to parents of children in diapers. The Bowling Green Community Foundation is providing a $2,440 grant to purchase approximately 1,000 of the swim trunks.
The cost of the poop trapping pants is far less than the cost of treating fecal matter that reaches the pool water.
Treatment of spilled feces varies by incident and can take up to 24 hours. Chemical costs, cleaning staff time, and lost revenue due to the closure range from $750 to $3,625 per fecal incident.
The Bowling Green pool experiences an average of six pool stools each summer. Faecal matter in water is not only a costly problem to solve, it is also a public health problem. Waterborne diseases such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium can spread quickly if the litter goes unnoticed or unreported.
Added to this is the negative image associated with swimming in faecal-contaminated water.
The reusable swimming trunks will be available on site, along with health information about diseases that can result from water contamination. Otley and Chatfield explained that they want the trunks to be free as many families will be arriving to swim for the day and are unaware of the new rule.
Additionally, for many underprivileged and unprepared families, there could be a financial obstacle that could result in being turned away for not having a reusable swim diaper.
The trunks can be taken home by families and reused when they return to the pool.
The board also discussed other pool-related matters Tuesday night. Otley gave an update on the pool budget and presented a proposal to generate more revenue.
In November, the board was informed that swimmers were flooding the pool last summer, but revenue was collapsing due to increased costs to run the site.
As the city saw growing numbers of people flocking to the pool, any growth in revenue from the surge in attendance was offset by increased spending on staff, chemicals, concessions, and natural gas.
When it was all added up at the end of the season, the pool budget was in the red at $29,230 — with $326,085 in revenue and $355,315 in expenses.
The city had already committed $20,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to the pool, so the expenditure was $9,230 over budget.
And this funding will not be repeated.
“There are no ARPA funds coming this year,” Otley said.
Otley suggested adding 50 cents to the daily fee for non-residents. That would bring in an estimated $6,000 more this summer. She recommended leaving the rates for city dwellers unchanged, as residents already pay over taxes for the pool.
The last tariff increase in the outdoor pool took place in 2019 – again only for non-residents.
Two board members – Cale Hover and Ardy Gonyer – questioned whether the proposed increase would be enough. Otley said the uncertainty surrounding the economy was reluctant to recommend more.
“There’s quite a bit of economic uncertainty,” she said.
The board will consider the rates again in February before making a decision. The recommendation then goes to City Council for approval.
The figures presented for the pool in November were not all negative. On the plus side, daily pool entries were high — they brought in $136,235, up nearly $20,000 from last year. However, season tickets were down — totaling $95,068, down nearly $12,000 from last year.
Concession sales were high – they came in at $69,539, about $6,000 up from 2021.
And swimming lessons were solid, with revenue of $25,243, about $900 down from last year, despite the decision to lower the maximum class size from 18 to 12 to give students better instruction and more individual attention .
Overall, revenues increased by around 3.6%.
However, spending on inventories, staffing, and supplies increased about 7.7%, or $25,552, year over year.
These expenses included an approximately $2,000 increase in administration and maintenance staff, an approximately $5,000 increase in water personnel, a $4,000 increase in chemicals, concession supplies by nearly $3,000, operating expenses by $9,000 US dollars and natural gas by more than US$3,000.