HARLINGEN — If the question is how cold is too cold, then the answer for the city’s indoor pool at Pendleton Park is anything below 72 degrees.
The Parks and Recreation Department’s advisory board voted this week to establish 72 degrees as the lowest water temperature that can accommodate swimmers in the popular city pool.
Parks staffers cited concerns about health issues which can arise for swimmers doing laps in colder waters, such as hypothermia, cold shock-induced heart attacks or illnesses that could be transmitted because colder temperatures make chlorine less effective.
“I know we have our die-hards that want to be in the water, but if something were to happen,” said Adam Diaz, the department’s aquatics supervisor. “These are rules that other people have.”
Asked about the effects of swimming in water below 72, Diaz said research he has done showed the primary health threat was the ineffectiveness of chlorine.
“It slows it down,” Diaz told the board.
Javier Mendez, parks and recreation director, said studies have shown several potential health problems associated with colder water temperatures and that 72 seemed to be a good cutoff temperature.
“If it goes below 72, then we’ll close it,” Mendez said. “That way we won’t have any issues with that pool.”
The new water temperature protocol will apply only to the parks and rec department’s Pendleton pool. The outdoor pools at Victor and Lon C. Hill parks already close down during the winter season.
“It looks like just common sense, especially for the safety of the public,” said Adele Clinton, chair of the parks advisory board.
The board voted unanimously to approve closing the pool if water temperature drops below 72.