Most Arlington pools, splash pads will reopen after brain-eating amoeba test returns negative
Public pools and most splash pads in Arlington will reopen Saturday after a water sample flagged for the possible presence of a brain-eating amoeba returned negative Friday, according to a city press release.
Further testing from the Environmental Protection Agency did not detect the presence of Naegleria fowleri at California Lane Park splash pad. The federal agency originally flagged the Aug. 17 water sample after observing organisms that could develop into the amoeba that causes a rare but fatal infection in humans.
The EPA notified the city of Arlington of a “presumptive positive result for Naegleria fowleri” because the organisms known as trophozoites were unidentified in the sample. The agency also recommended the city close the splash pad at California Lane Park until further testing was conducted.
The city will keep the splash pad at California Lane Park closed for follow-up testing and another round of hyper-chlorination to ensure organic matter is present in the water supply.
James Orloski, parks and recreation director, said the city closed all public aquatic facilities out of caution.
“Based on the initial information we were provided by the EPA about a potential water quality concern at one of our splash pads, we made a decision we felt was best for our community while we waited for confirmation that our protocols and practices were working as they should,” Orloski wrote.
Arlington joins a handful of municipalities participating with the EPA on a voluntary study on splash pad safety. The regional study is designed to splash pad management management.
The city’s parks and recreation department instituted higher chlorination levels; nearly $650,000 in facility improvements; and a new set of protocols following the death of 3-year-old Bakari Williams.
Bakari was exposed to N. fowleri at Arlington’s Don Misenhimer Park splash pad and contracted, then died from, primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) in late 2021. The city enacted a set of testing, treatment and safety practices known as the Bakari Williams Protocol.
“We recognize that our decision to temporarily close all pools and splash pads this week may have caused concern for some residents, but public health and safety is our top priority. We implemented the industry leading Bakari Williams Protocol and made significant technology investments in our aquatics facilities since 2021 to ensure our residents are safe,” Orloski wrote in the Friday press release.
Most pools and splash pads remain open through September. Here’s what will reopen:
- Splash pads at Don Misenhimer Park and Brantley Hinshaw Park will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays through the end of September.
- The indoor pool at East Library and Recreation Center will reopen for daily use and is available year round, excluding Labor Day and other holidays.
- The Beacon Recreation Center splash pad will run until the end of September, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until 6 p.m. Sundays.
- The Bad Konigshofen Family Aquatic Center and Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center will close for the season after Labor Day. They’re open from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
- Allan Bolden, Howard Moore and Woodland West pools have already closed for the season.
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