City of Arlington Implements ‘Bakari Williams Protocol,’ Completes Significant Investment in Health and Safety Equipment in Advance of Reopening of Public Pools and Splash Pads
By Office of Communication
Posted on May 24, 2022, May 24, 2022

The City of Arlington’s Parks and Recreation Department has implemented the “Bakari Williams Protocol” and made significant investments in the installation of health and safety equipment at its public pools and splash pads ahead of this year’s Memorial Day opening.

The $600,000 in improvements, as well as new policies, practices and protocols, are designed to improve visitors’ safety and experience while at Arlington aquatics facilities and were made as part of the City’s settlement with the family of Bakari Williams. The 3-year-old child died last September from a rare infection caused by the Naegleria fowleri ameba after visiting the City’s Don Misenhimer Park splash pad.

To ensure safe recreational spaces for residents and visitors, the Parks and Recreation Department worked with an independent auditor and inspectors to conduct a thorough review of splash pad equipment and supplies, maintenance, and water quality inspection policies, procedures and training. The Parks and Recreation Department developed the Bakari Williams Protocol, which puts additional checks and balances in place for aquatics facility maintenance, and also made recommended upgrades to the aquatics facilities’ chemical testing, controllers, and secondary sanitation systems to ensure facilities are safe for public use.

“The policies in the Bakari Williams Protocol reflect the highest industry standards for aquatic facility maintenance and ensure multiple levels of accountability” said Parks and Recreation Director James Orloski. “Arlington is committed to creating greater transparency to reassure our visitors about our water quality safety as well as with sharing our improved policies with other agencies in the aquatics industry across the nation so they can learn from our hard lessons.”

Among the improvements are

  • The addition of QR codes on signs at all aquatics facilities that will allow visitors to access the data of the most recent sample collected about water quality and other important facility information using their smartphones. Click here to visit the Water Quality Public Dashboard to see current readings of water quality at the City's pools and splash pads.
  • New digital water quality testing capabilities that reduce human error by eliminating visual inaccuracies in the testing process.
  • Automated water chemistry controllers with advanced sensors and features designed to produce safe and clean water and automatically shut off any splash pads where water readings are not in the acceptable ranges.
  • Chlorine minimum levels will be set between 2.5 ppm and 5 ppm for all splash pads, which exceeds the State minimum.
  • The addition of a secondary sanitation system, a state-of-the-art ultraviolet (UV) system, at splash pads.
  • Additional staff will be trained as Certified Pool Operators and water quality at splash pads will be tested three times a day, which exceeds state requirements, when the facilities are open to the public. 
  • A departmental reorganization also placed aquatic technicians under the operations division, creating a team of other skilled trades groups that can work together to ensure the highest quality of work.
  • Software that replaces the City’s handwritten record process by providing real-time water quality data and inspection records to aquatics employees remotely through an app. This app also has the capability to alert management about chemical readings outside of acceptable.
  • New paint and play surfaces at the Don Misenhimer Park Splash Pad.

Click here for more information on the City of Arlington’s aquatics facilities, including splash pad hours of operation.

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