Public swimming pool operators throughout Southern Nevada and the rest of the nation were bracing for a dash of cold water as Memorial Day loomed — federal regulations that would have required them to shut down pools while making pricey retrofits to allow access for the disabled.
Fortunately for everyone, implementation of the rule, which would apply to most public swimming pools, including ones at hotels and was scheduled to take effect May 28, was delayed until Jan. 31.That’s good news for swimming pool operators, but it’s time to fully review the proposal and maybe find more practical solutions for all.
As originally proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice, retrofitting pools to help disabled patrons get into and out of the water was an expensive proposition. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals said that as many as 315,000 pools nationwide would have had to have chairlifts installed at a total cost of more than $1 billion under the proposal.
Executives with the Nevada Hotel & Lodging Association told Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters and editors earlier this month that retrofitting pools with permanent lifts could cost as much as $50,000 per pool. A mobile lift that moves from pool to pool as it’s needed costs about $6,000.
Lawmakers, including Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both R-Nev., joined with hotel lobbyists to suggest that less expensive portable pool lifts available at many properties were just as serviceable.
They have a point. Surely, public and hotel pools should be as accessible to all, including those who are disabled, but at what cost? More to the point, how many disabled people would be likely to use a Strip hotel’s swimming pool and gain benefit from it if a $50,000 lift were installed?
On May 22, the American Gaming Association announced the delay of the rules to January. The group also noted changes in proposed regulations that link requirements to a pool’s size as well elimination of the permanent-lift mandate.
Bottom line: The final rule needs to be practical and address issues such as making pools accessible through use of a sloped entry. Making pools accessible to disabled people is an excellent idea. Now, officials need to sit down and deduce how to do this in a practical, low-cost and common-sense fashion.