Chlorine, staffing shortages affecting some public pools

Mobile County

CHICKASAW, Ala. (WKRG) — A chlorine shortage could impact your summer fun. The shortage is due to several factors, including the pandemic and damage from after Hurricane Laura last year.

The Chickasaw pool has been open since the end of May, and the city says they were fortunate to buy chlorine before prices started soaring.

The city began searching for deals on chlorine at the beginning of the year and found a local supplier. “Went in and they said they really stocked up for the year, and that we were welcome to purchase the amount we needed for the year. We talked about how prices may triple toward the middle or end of summer,” said Kathy Couey, the recreation superintendent for Chickasaw.

They bought the entire supply they’d need for this summer, to make sure they had enough.

The supply of chlorine started showing signs of slowing in February. There’s higher demand in part because of the pandemic, but also there are fewer supplies after a fire destroyed a chlorine manufacturing plant in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura last year.

“We began to notice that prices on chlorine slowly began to creep up and increase and they’ve been fluctuating on a weekly basis from our supplier,” said Hunter Burcaw, the owner of Mobile Area Pool Management.

Pool maintenance companies are also having to hunt to find what they need.

“We can only buy one 50 pound bucket of chlorine pucks right now per day. We’re really having to be really diligent to make sure our supply lines are constantly being stocked,” said Burcaw. He continued, “our technicians go through about a bucket and a half per week.”

Chickasaw says they are grateful to have bought ahead of time, and hope it will be enough.

“It’s very costly to operate a public pool and the chlorine is the most essential, right there with the staff. We are very cautious about sanitizing our pools. That’s why we started early. Because we would have had to come up with that price or closed the pool,” said Couey.

Chickasaw says while chlorine wasn’t an issue for them this year, they had a difficult time finding the right amount of workers. They were able to fill all of their certified lifeguard positions last Thursday.

The City of Mobile says they, too, are seeing issues in finding an adequate number of lifeguards and are experiencing some delays due to that and the chlorine shortage. The City of Mobile says they will be opening up two of their city pools Tuesday, June 15. Both Kidd Park and Dotch Community Center pools will open from 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. The city says they hope to have the others operating by the end of the week.

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