As summer brings in the swimming season, the nation is predicted to face what CNBC news called the “worst chlorine shortage this country has seen.” Like municipal pool operators across the nation, the City of Boulder last week found itself scrambling to find chlorine tablets that would keep its water clean.
Pool manager Jessica Craft said she was “devastast[ed]” to hear of the shortage, “especially after having to go through COVID-19 last year and having to limit activities at the pool.” And at the May 17 City Council meeting, Director of Public Works Dennis Wortman worried that chlorine tablets were nowhere to be found.
A week later, however, all was well. Wortman reported that he had been able to secure six buckets of chlorine tablets from Chemical Montana Company, which he says should be enough to last the summer.
Therefore, despite the national shortage, the pool remains set to open on June 1, according to Craft. Should the pool run out of chlorine, Craft said that there are a number of other methods the city could consider to keep the pool clean including salt, bromine, and ozone.
“I would have to check into them and make sure they are safe to use and that the chemicals would follow the state laws,” Craft added.
The national shortage is the result of a combination of factors.
In the past year the popularity of private home swimming pools boomed due to lockdowns, according to multiple news sources, causing the demand for chlorine tablets to increase. As this demand continued to increase, a fire hit a BioLab chemical plant in Louisiana last August, incinerating one of the biggest suppliers of chlorine tablets. According to CNBC, the plant hopes to rebuild and resume operations in the spring of 2022.
Additionally, according to the owner of Chemical Montana Company Greg Peterson, there have been some issues with transportation and importing materials from abroad.
“There’s a shortage of trucks in the United States right now and the container ships have got delayed for a variety of reasons,” Peterson said. He added that though he can’t guarantee it, he has heard chlorine production should improve by late summer.
As a result of this shortage, the price of chlorine is expected to increase by 70% compared to last year, according to IHS Markit. According to Peterson, however, the increase in the price of chlorine has not yet hit Chemical Montana.