9 Investigates: How clean are local pools?



ORLANDO, Fla. - Eyewitness News got a tip that a local pool was operating with no chlorine, so we requested recent pool inspections for all public pools in Seminole and Orange counties.

Investigative reporter Daralene Jones found hundreds have been cited this year for unsanitary and unsafe conditions. Some posed such a risk that they were shut down on the spot.

Carmen Rivera was shocked to learn the pool was shut down at a Red Roof Inn on International Drive hours after her family checked in.

“Wow, that’s really something,” Rivera said.

The closure happened during a routine inspection when 9 Investigates spent the day with the Orange County health inspector.

“It’s not uncommon. Chlorine and Florida’s climate, it can be reduced with the sunlight, heavy swimming,” Inspector Andrew Burns told us.

The pool operator kicked Channel 9 off the property before Jones could find out how the pool in the heart of the tourist district ended up with no chlorine, which is needed to kill bacteria that can make people sick.

“Get off the property, please. You have to take permission of manager before you take a picture or I call police,” the man said.

Through a public records request, 9 Investigates obtained the list of public pools in Orange and Seminole counties that have not passed inspection in the last year. Nearly 200 pools were on the list, including the Ritz Carlton, Florida Mall Hotel and Wyndham Orlando Resort, all in the tourist area.

In Seminole County, Live Oak Reserve, Lake Concord and Lake Howell Arms apartments are all on the list. Inspection reports show problems ranging from algae growing in the pool to a lack of chlorine.

The biggest issue was bad or non-existent flow meters, which are required to properly filter and chlorinate the water.

Avanti Resort on International Drive had a flow meter problem the day 9 Investigates went out with the inspector. And during a visit earlier this summer, the pool was shut down because of safety issues and a lack of chlorine.

“We had a problem with the computer that day. Some tweaking on the computer, everything is back to normal,” said pool engineer July Rivers, proving just how difficult it can be to keep public pools clean.

“The amount of people and it has to be safe or it becomes a liability.” Rivers said.

Health Department officials said the list of public pools with unsatisfactory inspections make up about 10 percent of all pools in Seminole and Orange counties, so the vast majority of local pools make it through inspection.

The pools are inspected twice a year, and most times the issues can be fixed quickly within a few days, if not on the spot.