Media Contact: John A. Stokes, (202) 673-2195 (DPR); Jack Pfeiffer, (202) 727-1751 (EOM)
Today, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty kicked off summer pool season with the opening of all of DC Parks and Recreation’s (DPR) outdoor swimming pools for the Memorial Day weekend and the summer, and announced DPR's compliance with the new federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety law. The Mayor also announced the launch of a new comprehensive website, dcsummerfun.dc.gov, which allows residents to gain access to a variety of programs available through the District government and its community partners during the summer months. Mayor Fenty was joined by Dr. Ximena Hartsock, Acting Director of DPR and members of the Ward 8 community at the Anacostia pool in Southeast.
"We are proud to be in full compliance with safety laws as we open our 19 outdoor pools for Memorial Day and the summer,” Mayor Fenty said. “The District will offer many free, fun and healthy recreational opportunities this summer for all of our residents to enjoy and to keep our children active and safe."
"District residents will find DPR swimming pools ready and open earlier and safer than ever before," said DPR Acting Director Dr. Hartsock. "DPR is prepared to provide the District with a free, fun-filled and safe summer season of outdoor swimming."
Marilyn Kawamura, President of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, presented Mayor Fenty and Dr. Hartsock with a $60,000 donation to support the DC Free Swim program, which will allow District residents to swim without fees at all operating pools for one year.
"We are delighted to once again partner with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation by allowing DC residents free access to pools. Kaiser Permanente believes in total health for everyone, and total health starts with healthy neighborhoods," said Ms. Kawamura. "Having a place to exercise and be active in a safe environment is essential to a healthy neighborhood. So, this opportunity to keep DPR pools free for DC residents is such a perfect fit with our mission."
Mayor Fenty and Dr. Hartsock also announced that DPR is in full compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007. This new federal law, which went into effect December 19, 2008, requires installation of an anti-entrapment drain or grate covers on all public pools and spas to protect swimmers and those using public hot tubs from suction entrapment. DPR is one of the first and largest metropolitan parks and recreation agencies in the United States to complete installation of these new, safer drains, and to be in full compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety law. The law is named after the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. She died after becoming stuck on the drain of a spa in 2002.
Critical to DPR obtaining full compliance with the new federal law was support provided by the Pool Safety Council and American Pool Enterprises, Inc. The Pool Safety Council provided $12,000 of services to DPR for the installation of anti-entrapment systems at 24 pools, and American Pool Enterprises provided $38,000 in services for the installation of Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) anti-entrapment units at 24 pools.
“We’re proud to recognize the District of Columbia today as the capital of pool safety,” said Danielle Kazmier, Executive Director of the Pool Safety Council. “The District has demonstrated that it is serious about not only embracing, but exceeding new federal pool safety requirements to prevent accidental drowning and entrapment. The District's efforts and urgency serve as a model for other jurisdictions working to implement this life-saving law.”
The Pool Safety Council also recognized DPR's pools as the safest municipally-managed public pools in the country for exceeding requirements of the new life-saving federal pool safety standards. The District received this distinction by installing multiple layers of protective equipment in all of the District's 24 pools to eliminate the risk of entrapment, drowning death or injury.
"When it comes to safety most people think about it after the fact when it's too late, and when it comes to swimming pools it can be fatal. American Pool Enterprises, Inc is proud that we were a partner in performing all the retrofits for DPR swimming pools, making Washington DC’s municipal pools the safest in the country," said Mitchell Friedlander, CEO and president of American Pool Enterprises, Inc. "The desire to not only meet the federal VGB Act, but exceed its requirements by adding a third layer of protection is a testament to the health and safety focus of Mayor Fenty and his leadership team. The aquatics industry applauds Mayor Fenty and we can only hope other leaders take the same position."
Residents can locate safe District pools, parks and recreation centers, summer school locations, community-based camps, DC Public Libraries, and other free, fun summer activities through the new DC Summer Fun Program locator launched today at dcsummerfun.dc.gov.
DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC) is distributing postcards promoting these DC’s Summer Fun programs at Department of Human Services (DHS) service centers, DC Public Libraries, Metropolitan Police Departments, City Council offices, the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
DPR's children’s pools and spray parks will open for the summer season on Monday, June 15. Children’s pools are small developmental pools which range in depths from one to three feet, and are designed for children up to 12 years old. A complete listing of DPR's pools and spray parks and schedule is available in the aquatics section of DPR’s website, DPR.DC.GOV.