Green pool has swimmers seeing red

GOOD GRIEF, GREEN AGAIN: The Hagåtña Pool, as seen on Jan. 16, with its filtration system not functioning properly, is green. Ed Ching, Guam Swimming Federation president, said one of his athletes has gotten sick from pool, the bottom cannot be seen from the surface, and the Department of Parks and Recreation needs to address the problem. DPR Director Richard Ybanez said the pool is safe to use, and a new filtration system will soon be ordered. Matt Weiss/The Guam Daily Post

For the past several years, the Hagåtña Pool has been opened and closed more times than the swimming community may care to remember.

With a hue more fitting a frog than a swimming pool, the pool has, once again, fallen into disrepair and may soon be closed.

However, Department of Parks Recreation Director Richard Ybanez assures that, despite a poorly operating, antiquated filtration system, the pool is safe.

“Every morning, our lifeguards check the chlorination (and) pH levels, and they are always safe,” Ybanez said. “If there is anything off-level, they would inform me and, of course, we would have to close the pool.

"So far, when they check, every morning, the pH levels are safe for swimming.”

Ybanez, citing the filtration system as the cause of the problem, said it is being addressed.

“Currently, our filtration system is not running 100%,” Ybanez said. “I have been there (the pool). The contractor has been there, ensuring that the chlorination (and) pH levels are safe for the swimmers.

“The pool is still open.”

Ed Ching, the president of the Guam Swimming Federation, doesn’t agree with Ybanez’s assessment. He said, despite being an embarrassing eyesore, the pool has already harmed at least one of his swimmers, potentially others.

“One of our swimmers already got an ear infection,” Ching said. “I expect other swimmers will also get ear infections. Some of the swimmers were complaining about their eyes and their throats.”

“They really need to vacuum the pool,” Ching said. “The more you dump chemicals in, it’s not going to help any. You need to be able to actually clean it to bring it to the luster it used to be. I don’t think that Parks and Rec is giving full support to the pool operator.”

Ching, Wednesday, told The Guam Daily Post that he couldn’t see the bottom of the pool.

“You can’t see the bottom right now,” he said. “That creates a bad situation for health and safety.

“If someone drowned, or was hurt, and was on the bottom of the pool, you can’t see the bottom of the pool, and it’s only 6 feet deep, at the deepest point.”

With GSF planning on sending athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the reoccurring pool issues have made practicing a challenge. In the interim, Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base have hosted and are scheduled to host upcoming meets. But not everyone can attend, Ching said.

And with the possibility of cross-contamination, using their pool may not be in their best interest.

“I think they’re oblivious to that," Ching said. “I don’t think they’ve sat down and thought it through. I don’t think they’re aware of what’s going on.”

Ybanez said, by the end of the business day, he will have a quote for a new filtration system.

“As you know, we are in the works of getting a new filtration system,” he said. “The governor is going to assist us, as far as funding.”

“We’ve done everything to get the pool as clear as possible,” he added. “Until we get the filtration system, we’re going to continue to work and do our best to ensure the pool is safe to swim in.”