State rule causing headaches for city pool users

Several readers pointed out this morning that there had been a rule change at city pools prohibiting children 14 and under from entering without an adult.

The Electric checked with Great Falls Park and Recreation staff and that is in fact the case.

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Steve Herrig, Park and Rec director, said it’s a state rule that requires signs at public pools must include the following language or something similar: “Nonswimmers and children under age 14 shall not use the pool without a responsible adult in attendance.”

Since under Montana rules, the definition of an adult is someone 18 years or older, that’s causing problems for local families.

Herrig said the rule had gone in to effect last year, but hadn’t been heavily enforced and that’s changing this summer.

He said the department has already received many calls about the rule.

“We’re not happy about it either and we’re losing business because of it” Herrig said.

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It may take an act of the Montana Legislature to get the rule changed, but in the meantime, Herrig said the city is working to develop a policy that would allow those under 14 into the pool with “a responsible person,” which could be someone 16 or older.

Some towns are allowing their pool managers and headguards to serve as the “responsible adult” but that creates liability issues, Herrig said.

Herrig said city staff are working to develop a policy to help alleviate the issue and it will be posted on The Electric as soon as it’s available.