AUSTIN, Texas – A staffing shortage along with winter storm damages have forced the City of Austin to be only able to open a handful of pools this summer.
“The city of Austin has 45 aquatics facilities, and that includes our splash pads and Barton Springs Pool,” said Jodi Jay, division manager for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department aquatics division.
Those aquatics facilities are made up of 22 neighborhood pools, 11 splash pads, seven regional pools, one wading pool, and Barton Springs Pool.
According to Jay, Austin has one of the largest aquatics divisions in the country. Usually, it’s easy for the city to keep up with it, but not this year. “It has been difficult, but we have a talented team that’s working hard to train lifeguards and get as many pools open as possible this summer,” she said.
Only nine out of 34 city pools around the city will be opened to the public this summer: Balcones Neighborhood Pool, Springwoods Regional Aquatic Center, Bartholomew Regional Aquatic Center, Govalle Neighborhood Pool, Big Stacy Neighborhood Pool, Shipe Neighborhood Pool, Dittmar Neighborhood Pool, Deep Eddy Regional Aquatic Center, and Barton Springs Pool. Only two splash pads are closed.
One of the main reasons the city is not opening up more pools is because of a lifeguard shortage. Currently, the city only has 219 certified lifeguards, but the city needs about 750 to open all pools safely.
“The City of Austin had a year-long, hiring freeze and training freeze so we were not able to train lifeguards from March of 2020 to March of 2021, and even when we are able to operate or have those lifeguard classes in 2021, we still had to have reduced capacities and we couldn’t have lifeguard classes larger than 10 people,” said Jay.
Another factor for the closed pools and splash pads is the winter storm that happened in February.
“We still have a lot of pools that require maintenance due to the storm breaking pump rooms and bathrooms and things like that so we’re still working through those repairs as well,” said Jay.
As soon as more lifeguards become available, the city plans to announce the openings of Mabel Davis, Montopolis, Parque Zaragoza, and Rosewood Pools.
“It has been difficult, but we have a talented team that’s working hard to train lifeguards and get as many pools open as possible this summer,” said Jay.
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