There are occasions, as those of you who joined us at the pool Memorial Day afternoon can attest, when the pool gets so crowded that the guards limit access. This is frustrating for all involved. Obviously no one likes to wait in line on a hot summer day when the pool beckons just beyond the gates. The pool staff certainly doesn’t like keeping members from the pool, especially those who pay maintenance fees every year to use it. But the pool is required — like all other water recreation facilities in Fairfax County — to adhere to capacity limits set by the county.
How is the Pool Capacity Set?
Fairfax County Code (specifically Section 69.1-3-14 Design Load) specifies the maximum individual swimming pool bather load permitted for our pool. The county calculates the maximum by taking the total water surface area in square feet and dividing that by 27. The county can adjust that maximum downward based on its own assessment of the facilities (bathhouse plumbing fixture restrictions, or other restrictions). In our case, our maximum individual bather load as determined by the county is 91 percent of the maximum design load, or 248 people. Our pool operators are required to enforce the bather load restrictions.
What if I don’t plan to swim, do I get counted against the pool capacity?
Yes, the county restriction applies to all the patrons using the facility, regardless of whether they are in the water or not. The only exception to the rule occurs during swim or dive meets when spectators at the facility do not have access to the pool during and after the event. Otherwise, the county has to assume that anyone using the facility may end up in the pool.
Why do we reach capacity?
The Greenbriar Pool Club has 600 memberships, a number set in our deed and unlikely to change anytime in the future. So, with a pool capacity of 248, it’s never been possible to have all 600 memberships represented at the pool at once. However, this actually understates the demand on the pool. Each membership can contain up to 8 family members total. In truth, our membership represents nearly 2,700 individuals who can all have access to the pool. With our capacity limit, we can’t concurrently serve even 10 percent of that total.
What can we do about increasing capacity?
The only way to significantly increase the capacity limit on the pool is to increase the amount of square footage of water surface area at the facility. Expanding the current pools or building additional water features are both possible approaches, but both require significant investment and planning to achieve. The Board of Directors is already exploring options for renovating the existing facility, with one of the goals being improving the maximum capacity. We’ll have more detail on that as that process moves forward. But in the near term, there are no steps we can take to significantly increase pool capacity.
What’s the best way to avoid getting stuck in line?
Anticipate that on holidays (like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day), if the weather is nice/hot, demand for the pool will be high, so you might want to get to the pool early in the day. Also special days, like the last day of school, or party days at the pool (see the calendar for pool events) typically have higher demand. Fortunately, though capacity issues happen, they’re the exception rather than the rule.
Why shouldn’t I complain to the guards about having to stand in line?
Please keep in mind that the guards have *no leeway* when capacity is an issue. They are not permitted to allow anyone into the facility until we again drop beneath the maximum. They also cannot save your place in the facility so that you can run home to get something you forgot. If you leave the facility when it’s at capacity, you won’t be permitted back in until the numbers allow it. Again, please don’t complain to the guards about this — they have no discretion. If you have any comments or concerns, please direct them to the Pool Club’s Board of Directors (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for reading, and hope to see you at the pool!