Code Enforcement and Standing Water
Website Visitor's Original Question:
A family purchased a small inflatable swimming pool during the summer, and placed the pool in the backyard. Children enjoyed it on the first day. Then for ten days the pool sat full of water and without activity.
A codes complaint was submitted regarding the potential for a mosquito breeding nuisance. On day ten the codes inspector evaluated the site and submitted this report:
"Thank you for taking the time to communicate with the city regarding your request. We understand your concerns regarding standing water; however, I inspected the pool this afternoon and determined there is no violation. The pool is in good condition and maintained properly. The city will not be moving forward with a code case at this time. The request has been documented and closed unfounded. Thank you and have a great day."
I think there are several remedies to this situation: turn the pool over when not in use, pull out the valve and empty it, or cover it with a tarp. These require education, not a fine.
Would you challenge this result? If so, how would you do it?
Before we could answer this question, our website visitor decided to ask the city for additional information about the rationale for finding no violation. Subsequently the city inspector sent the following more informative email:
"The pool is clean, clear and maintained. It has a filtration system connected and running. The filtration system, by design, circulates the water contained within the pool. Due to these factors the pool is not considered, standing water, a nuisance nor in violation."
We agree with our website visitor that this is a much more satisfactory response from the city than the original, not-so-informative version. Standing water in shallow pools is indeed a health concern, due to ideal conditions for breeding mosquitoes, which spread several diseases. We have experienced standing water code violations due not only to kiddie pools, but also to bird baths, untended former koi ponds, and minor sinkholes in back yards. But it is the stagnation factor that is key to determining whether this is a code issue or not, and we think this code inspector's final determination is correct.
However, to city officials who are reading this, please realize that you should offer complete explanations to people who care enough to report possible code violations. Our website visitor copied city council members when he questioned the first outcome, but citizens should not have to do this to obtain a well-written response.
Incidentally, mosquito control issues often are handled through a health department and not through ordinary municipal code enforcement mechanisms.
Last Updated: January 22, 2021
Subscribe to our monthly e-mail newsletter, called USEFUL COMMUNITY PLUS, which provides you with short features or tips about timely topics for neighborhoods, towns and cities, community organizations, rural environments, and our international friends. Unsubscribe any time. Give it a try.