Pandemic demand, plant fire cause pool supply shortage


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On a cloudy Friday in May with temperatures barely in the 50s, the calendar says it’s pool season.

Of course, this is Michigan. Just wait a minute. It will warm up.

But when it comes to maintaining your pool this year, you may face a challenge. One of the most basic ingredients for keeping a pool clean, 3-inch chlorine tablets, are hard to come by.

“When our basic tablets … are gone, they are gone for the year,” Sherrie Miedema with Zagers Pool and Spa in metro Grand Rapids told News 8.

If you can’t find tablets, there are alternatives, like granulated chlorine.

“Some people use liquid chlorine. It has some disadvantages,” Miedema said.

Why the shortage? First, the pandemic caused a surge in new pool construction over the last year. More pools means more demand for chemicals and maintenance. Then a fire damaged a Louisiana plant that accounts for about 40% of chlorine tablet production for residential use.

Some stores are limiting the sale of the tablet buckets.

Zagers can determine how much you need by looking at your pool size and doing a water analysis.

“We’re trying to limit to that which the customer would reasonably use in a year,” Miedema said.

The bigger concern: Is chlorine becoming the next toilet paper in this pandemic?

“Hoarding is a bad idea. It will just bite all of us down the road because we do need chlorine to keep things in good shape,” Miedema said. “We do want to be careful that we pace ourselves so that everybody has a shot at keeping their pool clean this year.”

The surge in pool installations last year has put a major burden on the industry when it comes to maintenance.

If you haven’t opened your pool for the season yet, you may want to become a do-it-yourselfer.

“We are looking at the Fourth of July for pool openings,” Miedema said.

It’s the same when it comes to maintenance. Crews will still get to you when something major failures, like a pump. But when it comes to minor repairs and renovations, Miedema says you may have to wait.

“We’re working hard to keep up,” she said. “There’s a lot of demand. We need a lot of patience.”

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