City officials in Meadowlakes and Marble Falls are discussing pool maintenance as the effects of a nationwide chlorine shortage reach the Highland Lakes. Sold in tablet and liquid form, chlorine acts as a pool disinfectant while also killing algae and maintaining a healthy pH balance for the water.
“We’re just buying what we can find when we can find it,” said Meadowlakes City Manager Johnnie Thompson.
In August of last year, a fire at a pool supply production plant in Louisiana disrupted chlorine production across the country. This, combined with the uptick in backyard pool usage and installations last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, has caused a nationwide chlorine shortage.
Meadowlakes city officials began discussing the shortage after the Property Owners Association decided to open the pool at the Hidden Lakes Golf Club, 220 Meadowlakes Drive, this year from Memorial Day, May 31, to Labor Day, Sept. 6.
Thompson recently began calling various distributors in the Austin area to add to the city’s existing supply. He said finding supplies is difficult.
“We found someone with 48 pails, but by the time we came and got the credit card to pay for them, there were only two left,” Thompson said.
In addition to scarcity, price gouging because of high demand is also an issue. Thompson said the city used to pay $80 for 50 pounds of tablets. Now, a 30-pound bucket costs $149.
The city of Marble Falls is also aware of the issue, Parks and Recreation Director Lacey Dingman said during a commission meeting May 3.
“We’ve already been talking to our vendors about (the shortage),” Dingman said. “(Suppliers are) saying there’s going to be a delay on getting products and are definitely expecting a price increase.”
The city’s swimming pool at Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, is scheduled to operate from June 1 through Aug. 14. Currently, Marble Falls has 160 gallons of chlorine in stock, which will last about 30 days. The city uses Commercial Swim as its supplier.
“They haven’t indicated any huge concerns for the season, but we should plan a few days ahead on orders,” Dingman said in an email to DailyTrib.com. “We have other stockpiles of chlorine that we could utilize if there becomes a delay in supply.”
Pool supply stores are also feeling the effects of the shortage.
Jason Harper, manager of Pool and Spa Haus, 1612 U.S. 281 in Marble Falls, said he has been working with distributors from San Antonio and Austin to keep up the company’s supply.
“The market is going to do what the market is going to do, and I assume it’s going to get worse,” he said.
According to Harper, you can keep pools clean without chlorine, including with saltwater systems that some pool owners use to maintain healthy swimming environments. However, pool owners should consult professionals before switching to alternative cleaning and maintenance methods.