Arlington Parks and Recreation Highlights Safe Splash Pad Operations This Season Under Bakari Williams Protocol
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on September 19, 2022, September 19, 2022

Pool and Splash Pad Safety

The Parks and Recreation Department reports several successes from its first swim season since the implementation of the “Bakari Williams Protocol,” which outlines new policies and procedures designed to improve visitors’ safety and experience while at Arlington aquatics facilities.

Arlington adopted the protocol and completed nearly $650,000 in improvements earlier this year as part of the City’s settlement with the family of Bakari Williams. The 3-year-old child died in September 2021 from a rare infection caused by the Naegleria fowleri ameba after visiting the City’s Don Misenhimer Park splash pad.

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.

Among the successes:

• The addition of QR codes on signs at all aquatics facilities allowed 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.

• 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. With these improvements staff were able to use their time more efficiently as issues arose.

• Additional staff were trained as Certified Pool Operators. Water quality at splash pads was tested three times a day, which exceeds state requirements, when the facilities are open to the public. With that, more than 1,162 manual water tests were conducted this season at the four splash pads. Plus, more than 1,300 labor hours, or 12.3 hours per operating day, were recorded this season, which includes inspecting splash pad features, cleaning skimmer baskets, power washing the splash pads, conducting manual water quality tests, backwashing filters, refiling chemicals and making repairs.

• Chlorine minimum levels were set between 2.5 ppm and 5 ppm for all splash pads, which exceeds the State minimum requirement of 1 ppm. The splash pads are still open, but during the first 106 days of operation this season, none recorded chlorine levels below the City’s new minimums while open to the public. The average chlorine levels during operating hours were 2.9 ppm for The Beacon, 3.5 ppm for California Lane, 3.93 ppm for Misenhimer and 3.47 ppm for Hinshaw.

Other improvements:

• A departmental reorganization 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.

• New digital water quality testing capabilities that reduce human error by eliminating visual inaccuracies in the testing process.

• Upgraded the secondary sanitation process to a state-of-the-art ultraviolet (UV) system at splash pads.

• 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. The Becsys-Software allows staff and management to monitor real-time chemical levels at all aquatic locations.

• New paint and play surfaces were implemented 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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