Pool Operational Procedures and Current Testing Results 

October 28, 2019

Minnewaska Area Schools takes the health and safety of our students, staff, and community partners very seriously. In addition, we work diligently to protect and improve our community’s school’s facilities and investments. Upon further investigation, it was determined that at no time were any students, staff, or community members exposed to any dangers, hazards, or harm in the water or in the MAS pool facility.

In early September, it was brought to the Superintendent’s attention that there were concerns about the pool. Within four hours of the initial report, the following steps were taken: the MAS Pool was closed for testing by the Minnesota Department of Health; no discrepancies or concerns were found. The Dept. of Health and ISD 206 have conducted independent testing in addition to the daily testing conducted by ISD 2149 licensed pool professionals of the MAS pool every week for the last six weeks. ISD 2149’s pool professionals have never found any chlorine levels above the recommended levels. Additionally, HVAC and pool experts were brought in to investigate pool operations to ensure it was safe and was in compliance.

The following experts have reviewed processes, procedures, and operations on-site and have performed extensive testing of the water and facility:

  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Pools
  • Mission Mechanical Engineers
  • Johnson Controls

On Monday, October 21, a 90-minute meeting regarding the pool was held prior to the school board meeting to review the findings of these experts, discuss upcoming improvements, and answer questions.

The MN Department of Health conducted a comparison water test along with another area school district. Minimal differences were shown and levels were within a normal range. As an extra safety precaution, a new testing unit was ordered for future testing purposes.

After rigorous testing, these outside experts determined the Minnewaska pool and facility to be safe for use. Three independent companies were contracted to test the HVAC system, ensure the MN State Code for air exchange rates were in compliance, and that the chemical levels of the pool met industry standards. All three agencies reported that everything met code and industry standards. In addition, these agencies provided consultation to further improve the air and water quality. The following recommendations and safety procedures will be implemented and continued:

  • Install a new medium pressure UV light system (ETS) for the swimming pool. Medium pressure UV systems give off a broader spectrum of UV light and are therefore better at oxidizing combined chlorine from pool water as different chloramines are destroyed at different UV light wavelengths.
  • Improve the operation and capacity of the exhaust from the Pool AHU.
  • Update the heat recovery system for energy efficiency and operational maintenance.
  • Consider heightening the frequency of the purge cycle to vent the air in the pool
    more often.
  • Add low air returns within the pool to remove the chloramines off the floor
    and water surface.
  • Maintain water temperature at 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • All swimmers are to shower before entering the pool.
  • The pool blanket cover will be removed two hours prior to any practice
    or swimming activity. 
  • The door will not be propped open in order to allow the pressure-based ventilation system to engage properly.
  • The pool lights will be shut off when not in use.
  • Maintenance requests will be addressed.

In summary, at no time were any of the chemical levels of the pool outside any safe limits or even outside the recommended zones for operation. However, one of the four dehumidification units failed in late August and it took longer than expected to get it replaced; this affected humidity levels which caused less than ideal conditions. The air handling system itself is completely operational and meets recommended levels and MN Code. We will continue to monitor and make continual improvements to ensure we provide the best possible facility to our students, staff, and community.

Chip Rankin