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2 local pools requiring proof of residency due to nationwide lifeguard shortage

Blanchette and Wapelhorst aquatic facilities are requring residency in certain ZIP codes.

ST CHARLES, Mo. — Two St. Charles public swimming pools are requiring proof of residency this summer to manage turn-out. It’s in response to the nationwide lifeguard shortage.

Proof of city residency is required at Wapelhorst and Blanchette aquatic facilities.

These are the ZIP codes that are required for admission:

  • 63301
  • 63303
  • 63304
  • 63373
  • 63376
  • 63386

Season pass holders are not affected by the residency requirement.

The ZIP codes

Director of Parks and Recreation Maralee Britton said this isn't the first time this has happened. 

When it reopened for COVID, specific ZIP codes were chosen.

For this recent incident, they looked at those numbers during the COVID days and went with that. 

These include residents who are paying taxes for it. Plus, the St. Charles Parks have an agreement with St. Peters Parks to use St. Charles city pools and St Charles city can use their rec plex. 

In addition, Britton said they wanted to include certain ZIP codes that represent Orchard Farm, West Alton, and Portage Des Sioux because those cities don't have aquatic facilities.

As for those using Tiny Tots, this is not affected by the requirements.

The numbers

Wapelhorst capacity maxes out at 800 and at Blanchette, it's 600. Britton said it reaches capacity usually on the weekends. 

However, Britton said for Memorial Day this year, Wapelhorst saw more than 1,600 people.

McNair Aquatic Facility is closed this season, also due to a shortage of lifeguards to safely operate the pool.

St. Charles officials have posted that swim lessons, fitness programs and rentals will be moved to one of the other facilities and anyone registered for activities at that facility will be notified.

Britton said McNair is a smaller facility with about 8,000 guests a year and they are wanting those resources at the other two locations.

Britton said the goal every year is to have 117 lifeguards for all three facilities total. 

Dwindling it down to two facilites, the St. Charles Parks and Recreation walked into the season with 85 lifeguards.

Last week, it gained 15, so it's up to 100. It's short of 17 lifeguards spread among the two facilities. 

Britton said they are at a decent spot now with lifeguards but it's early in the season. 

"Some go on vacations and with summertime sports, they won’t have many hours to work and this puts extra stress on the facility," she shares.

She also said some leave. 

"Some are new to the workforce. Some people decide it's not for them and decide to go somewhere else. We have a percentage of staff that we lose and they realize it's not for them," Britton notes. 

The response

On the day the changes happened, Suzanne Shipley and her grandchildren were enjoying the cool water on a hot day. 

Shipley welcomes the idea of adjustments.

"It limits the amount of people that come in so we can enjoy it and have enough people to take care of the kids," she said.

Several parents pointed out the overcrowding recently and even fights sprouting up. 

Many voicing safety concerns. 

Beyond concerns, others shared their sadness. 

O'Fallon resident Marcia Birch doesn't live in one of those ZIP codes.

"It's such a bummer, such a bummer," she said. "We like to go to Wapelhorst. I really enjoyed going there, I went a lot with the kids. I'm really looking forward to that day it opens up access again. I love that little park, it's really really nice."

What's next

The plan is to not have this in place for the rest of the summer.

"We are evaluating this daily and in a couple of weeks we could relax this if we hire more," Britton says.

If you are interested in becoming a lifeguard or a staff member, click here

Right now they are looking for: 


  • Lifeguards (ages 15+)
  • Swim Instructors (ages 16+)


  • Event Bartender (must be 21+)
  • Lead Concession (must be 21+)
  • Concession Stand Workers (ages 15+)

Editor's note: This story previously stated the program was in St. Charles County. The pools and this program are specifically in the city of St. Charles.

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