What's in the water? WNWO investigates dirty water in Toledo pools

WNWO spent the summer testing chlorine and pH levels from water samples collected in each of Toledo's city pools to find out if the water is being treated properly.

The warm weather made Toledoâ??s city pools a hot attraction this summer, but how safe was the water? WNWO spent most of this summer finding out, and ran into several road blocks along the way.

WNWO spoke to officials at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department to find out how the city of Toledo keeps the water clean in its six pools.

â??Thereâ??s an automatic pump that pumps the chlorine and it monitors the levels of chlorine and pH, water chemistry inside the pool to make sure itâ??s at the right level,â?? said Eric Zgodzinski, Director of Community and Environmental Services at TLCHD.

Even if the water looks clear, leakage from dirty diapers and other accidents leaves behind bacteria. If the water isnâ??t treated properly, that could make you sick.

Safety standards enforced by the health department mandate chlorine levels to stay between 1-3 PPM (Parts Per Million) and pH levels between 7.2-7.8 PPM. Chlorine kills bacteria while pH is a measure of acidity. Pool managers are required to test those levels at least once per day when pools are open to the public.

So how well are the automatic pumps working? WNWO found out by testing chlorine and pH levels from water samples collected in each of the pools using the following procedure.

All tests were conducted and results were verified during July using a â??Basic Poolcare OTO Test Kit,â?? using solutions to test pH, and Total Chlorine. A second test was conducted on the same water samples using pool test strips with indicators for Free Chlorine and pH. Water samples were obtained from each of the pools using clean collection tubes. They were then sealed and were not mixed with any contaminates.

Collecting water samples was not an easy task, as several road blocks were thrown up by the city of Toledo. Most notably, WNWO was denied access into all of the city pools when pool management officials became aware of our tests. The entrance gate to Wilson Pool was even chained and locked when we attempted to collect a water sample from that location.

The tests were then conducted discreetly under the watchful eye of pool managers. Here are the results of our tests:

Chlorine and pH levels tested within the proper safety standards at Willys Complex Pool, Navarre Pool, Roosevelt Pool, and Pickford Pool. Water samples from Wilson Pool and Jamie Farr Pool both tested within proper pH levels, but the amount of chlorine showed less than .5 PPM.

Zgodzinski, who was the only city official to grant our interview request, offered this explanation for the failed chlorine test result.

â??If itâ??s zero then there was a malfunction someplace in that pump house that that feeding system wasnâ??t getting chlorine to the pool for whatever reason most likely.â??

In an email later sent to WNWO, Zgodzinski says levels at both pools were within the proper limits (at 1 PPM). He also stated, â??Our main contact and who would be responsible would be the operator of the pool. Ultimately it is the license holder.â??

The health department says there have been no recent reports of illnesses related to Toledo city pools. Even so, our tests indicate pool water was not treated within proper safety standards on at least two occasions. WNWO will be testing the water again when Toledo city pools open next season.