The rest of the summer may have fewer pool days.
A nationwide chlorine shortage may not be resolved until people stop using their pools in the fall.
“It ends in November when all the pools back east shut down and everything else in the supply chains can start to catch up,” said Tony Lawrence, owner of TLC Pools.
Lawrence, who has been in the business for more than two decades, said the United States is in the middle of a supply chain perfect storm. He said a fire destroyed a major plant that produced chlorine, there is incredibly high demand, and some of the shipments were delayed all the way back to when the giant cargo ship blocked the Suez Canal in March.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“Any place that sells chlorine, we’re going in to buy it, because we need anything we can get,” Lawrence said. “It’s August -- beginning of August -- everybody in the world is swimming. We all need chlorine. We all need it now. We need it yesterday. We need it last week.”
Several public pools throughout San Diego County have already closed, including Coronado’s public pool and many HOA pools.
This year has been a reversal of fortune for pool companies and cleaners. Lawrence said his pool cleaning and repair business jumped almost 30% in 2020.
“I would never want another pandemic," Lawrence said. "I don’t want this one to continue, but it was great for business. Now it sucks because now we can’t get chlorine. I went today. There’s zero chlorine.”
Lawrence, who is also the voice of several local athletic teams and hosts the Tony on the Mic podcast, said he also blames the industry. He said some people are hoarding gallons of chlorine in a way similar to how people hoarded toilet paper last year.
“If they just bought their 10, we could all probably skate by and balance, but people when they get a chance to buy 10, they buy 20 or 30 or 50 or 100,” Lawrence said with a sigh.
Lawrence said, making matters worse, the lack of chlorine has driven up the price. He said a gallon of chlorine now costs as much as a gallon of gasoline, when cholired used to be a third of the price.
“County code, city code, state codes, health codes, all these codes, you need chlorine," Lawrence said. "It’s not just a luxury. It’s a necessity.'