Pools close as chlorine shortage continues

The swim season has been a short one for many commercial pools across the country as both the pandemic and the chlorine shortage delayed openings and then forced early closures. From California to New York and just about everywhere in between, public pools are closing before the traditional end of the pool season on Labor Day due to the rising costs of chlorine or flat-out inability to obtain sufficient supply.

In San Diego County, California, scarcity of the chemical shuttered dozens of pools this August. In a region where the temperate climate allows for year-round swimming, the city of Coronado closed its pools until further notice, saying it has received little to no supply to keep both its competition and recreational pools open at its Aquatic Center.

Roger Miller, director of the city’s Recreation and Golf Services, said that the city uses about 500 to 600 gallons of chlorine to treat an estimated 100,000 gallons of water per week but was receiving shipments of only 300 gallons of chlorine, forcing them to shut down operations.

“We cannot keep the water quality where we need it to be so we’ve closed the pools and they will remain closed until we either get a full delivery or we can secure an alternative source of chlorine,” Miller said.

Several YMCA locations in the region found themselves in much the same situation this summer, and posted notices that their swimming facilities could not remain open.

Low supplies and high demand led to sales adjustments at supply stores. At the Chula Vista location of pool supply retailer Leslie’s, fewer shipments of chlorine caused the store to impose quantity restrictions, according to the location’s manager.

In Los Angeles, less than a month after the Department of Health cleared cityrun pools to open, the majority of those pools had to close, due to diminished availability of chlorine.

And the situation is not unique to California, either.

The highly anticipated

fourth of July opening at the Stonecrest, Georgia, Aquatics Center was delayed several weeks because it took three months for adequate disinfection supplies to arrive.

In New York, the Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation & Youth Programs closed all city pools at noon on August 5 because of the nationwide shortage of chlorine. The department said it closed the pools because of delays in receiving delivery of chlorine supplies for them.

Hotel pools and spas are also closed in many places, so travelers are advised to call ahead if they are hopeful that swimming be a part of their vacation.

Meanwhile, of course, the shortages have been met with attendant price increases, so if you can find it, you can expect to pay a lot more.

By most estimates the nation-wide price of chlorine has more than doubled, with a 50-pound bucket of trichlor not fetching well over $150 in many regions, compared to about $75 last year.

Because of this, and numerous other industry shortages, like most service professionals across the country, Texas Pool service owner Robert Scott, of Exclusive Pool Cleaning Service in Odessa has reluctantly increased his pricing structure, forced to pass increased costs on to his customers.

“I’ve done my best as a business owner not to raise my prices on the customer, but it’s becoming impossible because they continue to raise the prices on me,” Scott said.

It’s a problem that may not resolve itself until well into 2022, when the Biolab facility in Westlake Louisiana, once responsible for about a third of the country’s trichlor, is once again up and running.