01 Jun 2016

A swimming pool which will remain nameless (on this blog) was closed recently when legionella bacteria was found within the water supply to the building. This has caused upset and inconvenience to many people in the area, including a swimming coach and his team as well as those who use the pool to socialise.

Legionella in a swimming pool

But surely, closing the pool was the best solution? Surely it was better to close it and leave a few people with nowhere to go rather than risk them catching the deadly disease that is legionnaire’s? Legionella bacteria can most certainly kill, after all. Health and safety. It’s important.

And yes, it is important. Very much so. We at Legionella First wouldn’t do what we do if keeping people safe from legionella wasn’t essential.

But is it always necessary to close a swimming pool when the bacteria has been found in the building it sits in? That is, not in the pool itself, but in the water in the rest of the building?

In this case, the routine legionella sampling (something that every public building should be having done on a regular basis – please speak to us if this is something you’d like to discuss further) detected bacteria not within the pool itself, but within the heating system. In order to combat the problem, a chlorination of the system was carried out, and retests taken (and if a chlorination is something you think might be of use to you, get in touch – we work with trusted partners for this service).

It is likely – unless there is a major underlying problem – that this will solve the issue, and the pool will be reopened once the sample results are in.

Great news for those who want to use it.

But the question was – and is – should the pool have been closed in the first place? It’s a tricky one.

Is it a case of better safe than sorry, or one of going to the extremes when it simply wasn’t necessary?

Better safe than sorry

Well there are some points to address and some questions to answer before making a decision here. Firstly, was the bacteria found in the heating system of the pool itself, or the building? If the former, then yes it would probably be a prudent move to close the pool (although bear in mind there is no requirement to test for legionella in pool water). If the latter, was it found in just one sample of the many that should have been taken? If that was the case then simply isolating that outlet, closing it off, and making sure no one used it until the all clear came back would have been sufficient.

Only a competent, experienced professional would be able to say, after seeing the results and checking the risk assessment – assuming there is one – whether the pool should have been closed or not.

That’s what we are here for. Please contact us if you’d like to chat further about legionella risk assessments for your leisure centre.

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