Paint Issue Could Cost IA Pool Summer Revenue

FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2022

The Splash Landing Family Aquatic Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, is reportedly operating under a limited capacity because of chalking paint in its swimming pool.

The issue was first discovered when the pool opened for the season on May 30.

Cloudy Water, Remedial Efforts

According to The Quad-City Times, the Splash Landing Aquatic Center was repainted by W.F. Scott Decorating Inc. of Rock Island in September 2021.

However, just hours after the pool opened on May 30, it was again closed due to cloudy water keeping patrons and lifeguards from seeing the bottom of the pool. Per Iowa’s state health codes, public pool water must be clear enough to see the bottom for potential markings like lines or depth numbers.

After investigating the issue, city staff determined that the issue was with the paint used by the coating contractor.

“Our chemicals, our pH levels, our chlorine levels, we test those very regularly during the day,” said Kim Kidwell, Director of Culture and Recreation for Bettendorf. “Those always remained fine. It was just the cloudiness due to the chalking of the paint. That’s been the issue.”

In their evaluations, officials found that the chalking and clouded water issue only persisted when waves caused by large groups of swimmers crashed up against the painted surface, causing it to strip off.

“If you just had 50 people in there, 20 people in there [the cloudiness] doesn’t happen,” Kidwell said. “If the paint is sort of coming up at those times where we have this low bather load, our filter system is keeping up.”

As a result of the chalking paint, W.F. Scott Decorating Inc. tried to address the problem at no cost to the city. However, after draining and cleaning the pool, the problem still persisted. It was after these remedial efforts that Brock Aunan of W.F. Scott Decorating said in an email to The Times that it was undetermined if the situation at Splash Landing was actually a paint problem.

Aunan went on to further explain in his email that the company’s Sherwin-Williams rep explained twice to city officials that the chalking was a normal process with epoxy paints exposed to the elements. The rep also reported that they believed the problem was paint, but rather insufficient annual maintenance by the city to keep the pool clean.

Until the city can resolve the issue, Splash Landing is operating under a limited capacity for swimming lessons and lap swims, according to KWQC. The aquatic center’s website reported on June 10 that it would also proceed with previously booked private rentals.

Open public swimming times are suspended until further notice, and although the defective paint does not affect the splash pad, officials have also decided to keep it closed.

Splash Landing is also offering refunds or prorated prices to families who have bought season passes. Those interested should reach out to the Bettendorf Parks and Recreation Department.

“We’re hoping to find a solution with a contractor in the near future,” Kidwell said “We are working with them on solutions, and they are working to find out what’s going on.

Last season Splash Landing made just over $300,000 in revenue—an average of about $3,500 a day.

“It’s detrimental to our revenue stream, and to the community,” Kidwell added. “More importantly, we’re here for the public. We’re here for kids and families to cool off in the summer and so far that really hasn’t been happening.”

While the department told reporters that it’s not too worried about lost revenue, it is concerned about how the reduced hours and limited capacity will affect employees and the community.

“We hired lifeguards who aren’t working as much as they thought,” Kidwell said. “We feel terrible about it, but again, safety’s just our number one priority. We just want to do what we can without compromising the safety of all of our swimmers.”

Kidwell said it is hoped the city will be able to open the pool again sometime this month.


Tagged categories: Chalking; Coating failure; Coating Materials; Coating Materials - Commercial; Failure analysis; Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Painting Contractors; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Renovation; Sherwin-Williams; Swimming Pools

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