Hotels, municipal recreation centers and other swimming pool operators are scrambling to comply with new government regulations requiring public pools to be accessible to people with disabilities.
For most public pool owners, that means adding mechanical chair lifts that move people from wheelchairs to the water. Manufacturers say that equipment costs $3,500 or more. With an estimated 235,000 to 310,000 public pools nationwide, combined costs of pool upgrades could exceed $1 billion.
The pool requirements were included in changes made to the 22-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010. While the initial deadline for compliance was March 16, the Justice Department agreed to give pool owners at least until May 21 because of confusion over the details and a backlog of orders with manufacturers.