ATLANTA, Georgia, January 23. TODAY, Swimming World received a passionate letter from Franke Marsden of Atlanta Swimming asking for our help to get the word out on an issue taking place in Atlanta, Ga. Apparently, drought conditions in the area might force outdoor pools to shut down this summer.
Here is Marsden's complete letter:
As many of you know our current drought is placing our summer at the pool in jeopardy. Current statewide restrictions will prevent communities from topping off their pools this summer, effectively preventing pools from opening at all. We cannot let this happen. Local swim leagues, pool management companies and other concerned individuals and groups have desperately tried to convince state and local officials to reverse this position. Those efforts have been met with indifference, resistance and little action. The time has come to let these people hear from ALL of us. I am attaching a draft of a letter I encourage you to share with others in your community and have them pass that along to state and local politicians and officials. I encourage you to share this along to not just those people on your swim team, but to everyone in your community and throughout metro Atlanta. This matter impacts everyone. Please encourage everyone in your community mail, e mail and phone these officials who can change this policy.
Several people can be contacted to help make a change to this policy. First, Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. Carol Couch of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to oversee matters regarding our drought crisis. She has the ability to grant broad exemptions to the watering ban. Second, Governor Perdue himself has broad powers as governor to grant the same exemptions and can help influence the decisions of state and local officials. Third, your state senators and representatives have the power to introduce emergency legislation in the current legislative session to address our situation. Finally, local officials; mayors, council members and local water officials have impact on local watering restrictions. We need to make our voices heard by all of these groups in order to elicit a change to the current restrictions. As things stand now, they are all just waiting to see if it will rain. Many of you have to decide NOW what to do with team registration, hiring of coaches, and purchases of supplies for your upcoming season. We cannot wait for them to make a decision in May or June.
Having our pools closed during the summer would be catastrophic. First, it would create a massive health risk. Stagnant pools would be a rampant breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus as well as other dangerous bacteria. Second, it eliminates the centerpiece of thousands of local neighborhood summers, the local pool. It is the place for kids to safely play, exercise, socialize and generally stay out of trouble. In metro Atlanta alone, over 40,000 kids participate in summer league swimming. Could you imagine cancelling Little League baseball? Third, the economic loss resulting from all local pools being closed has been estimated at $300 million. Industries from pool management to food service to chemical companies would suffer massive losses and would likely go out of business if this comes to pass. Finally, closing all the pools may ironically cause more water usage. If people can't go to the pool, they will likely take refuge inside from the heat. While inside, they will consume more electricity, they will likely use more water inside and ultimately may worsen the water scarcity.
While not topping off pools this summer would save water, it is a band aid on a gunshot wound. It is estimated that the amount of water used to keep the pools open this summer equal to the amount of water used by a family of 4 for brushing their teeth during the same period of time. Industrial consumption far outstrips what our pools will use this summer. These officials have picked pools because it LOOKS like they are taking massive measures to address the water shortage.
The drought has made us all take a hard look at our personal water consumption and hopefully we can all take steps to conserve. While the best solution will be rain, and lots of it, we cannot rely on that as our only solution. Each team should look into water reclamation steps as well as low flow plumbing fixtures for their pools to make ourselves drought proof in the future. I urge you to have everyone you know phone, e mail or send a letter to your state and local officials to make your voices heard. So far, they are not listening to the experts who have given them scores of valid reasons why this is such a bad idea. I continue to pray for rain each day and encourage you to as well, but we need to act now. Without your help we are looking at a dry summer in more ways than one.