"City, parks clash as pool drains"

"The park district received a stop-work order Friday for draining highly chlorinated water from Ray Williamson Memorial Pool into a wetland across Madison Avenue.And after a reportedly heated exchange, pool officials maintained that the water discharge is nothing they haven't been doing for years.I told them to shut it down, city Code Enforcement Officer Will Peddy said, and the guy looked at me like I was an idiot. I actually had to start yelling at him - 'turn it off!'According to the city's tests, the water draining into the class I wetland carried unacceptable amounts of chlorine - 0.4 parts per million - while city regulations say pool water drained into the ground must have no higher than 0.3 ppm, and 0.0 ppm if drained into a water body. They've been draining into this wetland for some hours, Peddy said Friday morning, after the violation was reported, and they've been scrubbing with some chemicals on the pool bottom - all of this is going into the wetland.John DeMeyer, aquatic facility manager for the park district, said draining the pool into the field across the street was not unusual.It's no big deal, DeMeyer said. We've been doing it this way for 30 years, and sometimes the chlorine level has been higher.But we know the city's been concerned about this, so we took extra precautions this year.According to DeMeyer, tests at the pool registered the chlorine at below 0.5 ppm, although he said his kit could not test to more sensitive levels. DeMeyer said he was not aware of any code violation.He (Peddy) came in and told me to turn off the water flow immediately and handed me a card, and as I was reading it, he said 'I don't see you moving' and said he could arrest me, DeMeyer recalled. So I said 'OK' and turned it off.Class I wetlands are the most sensitive on a scale of I to V, and subject to the strictest regulations. Best-management practices state that drained water must not cross property lines, and that the city's public works department must be notified before pools are drained. Assistant public works director Lance Newkirk said the department was not notified that the pool was going to be emptied for cleaning. Instead, Jerry Kramer, a utility worker driving along Madison Avenue, noticed an unusual amount of discharge from a stormwater pipe that drains into the wetland. The discharge was steaming, and this didn't appear right, Newkirk said. The employee tested the chlorine level and called Peddy.When I went up to the pool, the guy I talked to said they'd been doing it this way for years, Peddy said. My comment was, 'you won't be doing it this way any more.' Peddy said such code violations can carry a minimum $1,000 fine per day, per violation depending on the circumstances. "

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