The vast majority of semi-public pools in the county rarely — if ever — fail Health Department inspections.
That’s according to a Star analysis of several years of inspection data for more than 1,300 facilities with active permits, which detailed visits to pools, hot tubs and wading pools at places like hotels and apartment complexes.
More than 50 percent of such pools failed no inspections during the four-year period covered by the data and nearly 80 percent failed fewer than one in five of their inspections. Among those with a perfect record is Canyon Ranch, whose 22 permitted pools passed 179 inspections, and the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, whose 15 permitted pools passed 92 inspections.
While Pima County records of compliance are good for most area semi-public pools, there are some that have regularly failed their routine inspections. Nearly 60 facilities, or a little over 4 percent of the total, failed half or more of their inspections, though many of those locations had just a handful of total visits from inspectors.
Semi-public pools are defined by the county as a pool on the premises of a business whose primary function is not the operation of a swimming facility.
The Star obtained inspection reports from five facilities with higher fail rates, which showed that issues with chlorine levels, gates, fences, pool railings and main drains were among the most common.
For example, the pool and hot tub at University Heights Apartments, 1201 N. Park Ave., which failed six of 12 inspections, had issues with elevated, low and even undetectable chlorine levels during different inspections. Inspectors also noted the pool water was green last summer.
“There has never been a time where we haven’t corrected a violation,” said an apartment employee, who declined to provide his full name. “Company policy is to address it as soon as possible.”
The complex did pass all follow-up inspections, according to records.
Similar issues were found at the Broadmoor Apartments, 725 S. Tucson Blvd., whose pool and hot tub failed seven of 13 inspections.
“There are many reason why a pool can fail,” manager Steve Farmer said. “The problems are fixed usually that same day. It’s a pretty simple affair really.”
Swimming in unchlorinated water can result in a variety of different illnesses, including ear, eye or skin infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Repeat offenders are sometimes taken to court, according to Amanda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Health Department.
“Our ultimate goal is compliance, so that’s all that we take people to court for,” Anderson said. “Whenever they reach compliance, we just ask the court to vacate.”