By David Thackham
Citing the safety of South Carolina Legacy Park residents, the Indian Land community’s Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors has said it will operate its swimming pool according to the state’s proposed lifeguard standards.
The standards from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control typically govern public municipal pools, known as Type A. But the standards are being temporarily used to regulate other pools across the state, including those known as Type E, as of July 2.
Because Legacy Park’s pool has two slides, it is considered a Type E swimming pool and falls under the state regulations. It also has a variance to operate as a Type B structure if the slides are closed and secured.
One concerned resident, Laura Bain, had expressed public opposition to the board’s willingness to work within DHEC’s ruling. Because it is a private homeowner’s association pool, she felt it should not be run under public pool guidelines.
Board of directors president Melvin Stroble said safety is the chief concern.
“I’d rather not have the slides at all than for someone to get hurt,” Stroble said Wednesday.
Earlier this swim season, Legacy Park could only run its slides on the weekends, when they had enough staff to watch swimmers in the 4,252-square-foot pool.
DHEC and Legacy Park’s HOA Board of Directors have been working together to make sure the slides are operational throughout the week, on limited hours.
The law regulating Type E swimming pools was amended by the S.C. General Assembly in 2012, requiring such pools to submit a plan for lifeguard coverage to DHEC for approval.
Legacy Park complied and sent three separate lifeguard coverage plans to the state. The latest plan was approved, but then rescinded days later.
The reason DHEC said it could not approve the plan was because the state laws “do not provide a definitive standard for lifeguard coverage at Type E pools” and that they have yet to identify a national standard for such pools. In the meantime, Legacy Park will effectively operate under Type A rules.
“DHEC has been very cooperative with us,” said Troy Guild, vice president of the Board of Directors. “They’ve said flat out in both letters, ‘We’ve been given this issue for the first time, but unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to handle it for safety reasons, but we’re working through it.’”
As DHEC searches for that standard, all other Type E pools across the state will also need to either comply with Type A rules or submit a pool-specific plan.
In a July 2 letter sent to all Type E water facilities, DHEC indicated that a pool the size of Legacy Park’s would need to staff three lifeguards if there are 26 to 50 swimmers in the pool.
Bain had appealed to Legacy Park’s pool committee to convince the Board of Directors that they should fight DHEC on its decision. But the Board decided it was best to work with DHEC.
“If we become adversarial with a government entity, they’re going to drag their feet and no one wins,” said board member John Maroney. “Our focus and influence is in the community and doing what’s best for them.”
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