As summer’s usual scores of children jump and splash in the pool at DeLeon Springs State Park, adults might want to be extra-vigilant. There will be no lifeguards on duty.
The Department of Environmental Protection said it has become impossible to find enough people willing to work as lifeguards at the park.
Swimming will continue year-round in the circular spring-fed pool at DeLeon Springs, but swimmers will be at their own risk, according to the Florida State Parks website. Swimming has been, and is still, prohibited in the spring run.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Lauren Engel confirmed that no lifeguards have been hired for the summer of 2018.
She also noted that the agency has never provided lifeguards for Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, where swimming is also popular.
Historically, Engel said, the state has provided seasonal lifeguards only at parks whose swimming areas feature man-made structures.
“We have them at Wakulla Springs and Weeki Wachee, where there are a diving platform and slides,” Engel said.
The decision to eliminate the summer safety personnel was based on a shortage of qualified applicants, she said.
“It’s difficult to staff enough to work for that short period of time,” Engel said.
According to a State of Florida job posting, the base salary for the contracted lifeguard position is $12 hourly.
“It’s just hard to find enough of them with the hours — sunup to sundown, so many days, during the summer,” Engel said.
She said the agency is exploring ways to make the pool safe.
“Visitor safety is always a priority, and we’re definitely exploring options,” Engel said.
Unable to list possible alternatives, Engel said there will be warning signs posted around the swimming area.
Water depth in the swimming basin ranges from 3 feet to 30 feet, according to the Florida State Parks website.