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Aug 6, 2014 7:24 PM by Rebecca Taylor

Backwash pond has residents upset

TUCSON - Senior citizens living next to a city owned swimming pool say backwash drainage is drowning them in mosquitoes.

It's happening near the Quincy Douglas swimming pool located on East 36th Street. Residents say their complaints to various agencies have gone unanswered.

Neighbors call the standing water a health hazard. Instead of draining into the sewer system, like other city pools the grey water waste and rain water collects, creating a pond.

While a backyard pond sounds inviting this isn't what Jim Sardella had in mind.

"There's mosquitoes breeding in there and the odor goes right through our apartments," said Sardella.

The Blanche Johnson Courtyard houses seniors 62 and over with limited income. About 80 people live there.

When the wind kicks up, a musty pond smell is noticeable. Neighbors estimate this to be 25 feet wide and two feet deep.

" It's been going on for the past four to five years," said Sardella. "We've complained several times."

Including to Ward 5 council member Richard Fimbres. His office told News 4 Tucson they did receive a complaint, a letter two years ago and forwarded it to city parks.

Billy Sassi, Aquatics Manager for Tucson parks says the pool was built in 2006, before the housing complex. A backwash basin was used because the county did not allow a sewer hookup, at the time. The cost to do it now? $50,000.

"I was told there are no funds," said resident Shirley Hockett.

She's right. Last year the city looked at another option; redesigning the backwash basin. But even that would cost $25,000. For now city officials are spraying the area for mosquitoes until a permanent solution can be funded.

Sardella said, "there's mosquitoes out here at night, it's a health hazard."

City officials say the standing water is from recent rain, not from the swimming pool. Sassi said they haven't backwashed the filter since last week.

Residents want the pond gone.

"I think they should take immediate action. We've asked several times and we don't get any response," Sardella said.

Tucson parks insists they have thoughtfully looked into the problem. A second city facility, Clements pool was designed the same way and was recently connected to the sewer.

News 4 Tucson also reached out to the Pima County Health Department. They have not received any complaints from area residents.

We'll keep you updated on any new developments.

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