Hotel hot tubs fail inspections, wait weeks before re-inspection
October 15, 2017 10:35 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Hot tubs and pools are supposed to help you relax, but depending on what else is swimming while you soak, they can also give you diarrhea and stomach pain.
4 Investigates found that some of these water oases aren’t fit for humans, as some businesses are taking shortcuts when it comes to safety and sanitation.
Albuquerque Spa Repair Owner John Scott admits the spot meant for relaxation can get rancid.
“You got to keep it clean because if you don't you're going to regret it,” Scott said.
The City of Albuquerque keeps a database of pool and whirlpool – or hot tub – inspections.
Out of 354 public, commercial, fitness center, and apartment pool and hot tub locations, 89 fell out of city compliance at least once this year. Violations include a dirty hair and lint strainer, debris, visible algae, improper chemical levels or leaving the pressure gauge on the wrong setting.
Eighteen dirty spots are hotels. Some hotels went weeks before they were re-inspected by the city and given a passing grade. They include the Holiday Inn on Hotel Circle, the Ramada near the Sunport, the Sheraton Uptown and the Roadway Inn on Iliff Road.
Meanwhile, three Motel 6’s in Albuquerque failed inspections this year, thanks to an overabundance of chlorine, a dysfunctional emergency phone and a pump that was sucking nearly four times the recommended number of gallons per minute.
Too much suction poses a particularly dangerous hazard, as it could cause a swimmer to get sucked into the drain and drown.
Motel 6 Director of Marketing Raiza Rehkoff said they have since fixed the problems that were cited by the City of Albuquerque.
The Holiday Inn’s pool had a loose guardrail and the chemical levels were too high. City records reveal the facility waited six weeks before getting a re-inspection and passing grade.
At the Sheraton Inn in Uptown, the spa was sucking too much water and the pool wasn’t circulating enough water. The business waited nearly five months before a city re-inspection.
The ceiling above the Luxury Inn on Central is dilapidated. In a phone interview, an employee told 4 Investigates they’ve closed until further notice.
City inspections reveal the airport Ramada’s chlorine levels were far too high. Three months later during a city re-inspection, they still couldn’t get them right.
One hour after 4 Investigates interviewed the city, the Ramada was re-inspected and given a passing grade.
Scott said it doesn’t take much for hot tubs to turn into a germ hub.
"The biggest thing is that people don't keep the pH (levels) right,” Scott said. “pH is the most important part of a pool or spa."
If the pH isn’t right, Scott said, chlorine and bromine – the necessary chemicals needed to kill bacteria –will vaporize into the air.
According to the New Mexico Health Department, there were nine cases of cryptosporidiosis in Bernalillo County this year. The bacteria are found in dirty pools and hot tubs, and it can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.
Deputy Director of Albuquerque Environmental Health Mark DiMenna said public, commercial and apartment pools are not permitted to open a pool or spy when they are out of city compliance.
4 Investigates found many commercial pools that remained out of compliance failed to post signage that discouraged customers from jumping in.
“That’s on the facility – ensuring their pool is secured,” DiMenna said.
Susan Spring, the supervising director of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, said the city needs more inspectors. When fully staffed, the city has eight.
They currently have half that amount.
“These pools, there was a much longer lag time than we would like and that’s due to retirement on our part,” Spring said. “We’ve had inspectors leave who have not been replaced.”
DiMenna said the department has interviewed potential inspectors. There is no word yet on when they’ll start working full-time on probing pools and spas.
For those curious about a hotel pool’s upkeep, maintenance staff can be asked for the latest pool and spa inspection. They’re not required by the city to produce it; however many businesses may willingly comply to ease customer concerns.
Further, if you get sick, be sure to report your illness in detail to the New Mexico Health Department as well as the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. That way, both departments know to keep tabs on the facility.
Updated: October 15, 2017 10:35 PM
Created: October 15, 2017 10:24 PM
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