Polk County pushes to open Gibson Park pool on time with new, safer drains

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. In 2002 at the age of seven, Graeme Baker died in a spa after the powerful suction of a drain trapped her under water. Baker joined Nancy Baker, Graeme&squo;s mother, and Safe Kids USA in a three-year advocacy campaign to get the legislation approved.

Designed to prevent the hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas, the law became effective on December 19, 2008. Under the law, all public pools and spas must have installed drain covers that comply with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007. They must also have a second anti-entrapment system installed when there is only a single main drain.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson said last week that he was informed by the health department that the pool could not be opened this year without coming into compliance. Whitson commented that the pools were probably built in the 1960s or 1970s.

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Polk County plans to take the $15,200 expenditure out of its remaining fuel contingency budget.

Gibson Pool normally opens around the time school lets out for the summer, around the first of June. Whitson said last week&39;s funding approval should allow the pool to open on time this year.