People Don't Realize They Are Doing Damage

RECEIVED Mon., July 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Did you know that anyone with filthy running shoes is allowed to walk right into the water at any of Austin’s public swimming pools? That’s right! Anyone who wants to soak and rinse off their dirty shoes that could have met with dog stuff, etc., can do so at the pool. There are no pool regulations that prohibit such practice. The pool rules prohibit displays of affection, but it’s OK to poop-up the very same water everyone else is swimming in.
    It’s well known that Deep Eddy swimmers are unhappy with sweaty runners jumping in the pool without a shower. At the Barton Springs swimming pool, it’s the dirty running shoes as well.
    Many of these folks have misconceptions about the water. They think that the Barton Springs pool water comes from runoff or the creek. So what’s the big deal about rinsing a few pairs of running shoes? (“Just some dust, you know.”)
    Barton Springs pool is an environmentally sensitive zone. The water comes from the spring which is located near the diving board. It’s filtered by nature. We’re trying to preserve wildlife that lives in this water. They are fun and precious. Contaminants such as bits of dog feces that get stuck on the bottom of running shoes, dirty diapers, and synthetic perfumes are not good for the wildlife, and swimmers alike.
    I was informed by the Austin Aquatic staff that the reason we do not have the “no shoe” rule is to accommodate those who need to wear them for health reasons. It’s the only right thing to do. However, wouldn’t it make more sense to have rules that provide exceptions rather than making it an open door for those who want to abuse it? How about allowing water shoes only?
    For that matter, many people don’t even realize that they are doing damage. After all, there is no sign that says not to. And some people are just doing what others are doing. (“Hey, what’s a little more?”)
    I welcome the runners to soak their feet in the healing water of Barton Springs, but please be considerate and remove your dirty shoes before entering the water. Let’s think a moment here. Don’t you think it really is a matter of common sense and courtesy?
Sunyong Chung
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