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Map: More than half of city-operated public pools in Boston are closed amid heat wave

The BCYF Clougherty pool is closed for demolition and rebuilding until next summer.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

There may be an ongoing heat emergency gripping Boston, but some residents, depending on what neighborhood they live in, may have to travel farther than normal to find a city-operated pool to cool down in, as a majority of them are currently closed.

Ten of the 18 city-operated pools are currently shuttered for repairs and renovations, with the closures spanning the city from Charlestown to West Roxbury, Chinatown to Mattapan.

While lifeguard shortages have previously prompted the city to close pools, Mayor Michelle Wu’s office this week said the closures are not related to a dearth of lifeguards, but rather various work and projects going on at the locations that host the pools. (The lifeguard shortage, which is a nationwide problem, has prompted city authorities to waive city residency requirements for scores of the posts in recent years.)

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Earlier this week, Wu’s office declared a heat emergency for the city, recommending that residents limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours and take precautions during midday when ultraviolet rays are strongest.

On Thursday, as the city sweltered, some city councilors were troubled by the number of city pool closures.

City Councilor Erin Murphy, who represents all of Boston as an at-large member of the legislative body, called the situation “unacceptable.”

“It’s really maddening, because it’s not like this is something that couldn’t have been foreseen,” she said in a statement. “Not everyone lives near a beach or can hop in a car and drive to one outside the city ... We tried to take steps to ensure the administration’s readiness, and for residents not to be able to use these facilities as we’re facing dangerous heat is very frustrating.”

City Councilor Gabriela “Gigi” Coletta, who represents Charlestown, East Boston, and the North End, said she was “obviously concerned about a majority of pools being closed during a heat wave.” One city pool in Coletta’s district — the Clougherty Pool in Charlestown — is currently closed.

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Coletta said the closures were the result of city disinvestment in the facilities that hosted the pools, a sign of neglect that spanned years and multiple mayor administrations.

“Band-Aids were put on these pools, rather than significant investments that would make the pools usable for future generations,” she said.

City Council President Ed Flynn said in a statement, “We should work together to invest in pools that need repairs.”

Having access to pools is an essential part of residents, particularly youths of color, being able to take swim lessons and learn about water safety, which Flynn said is a priority for him “especially as we face high temperatures in the summer.”

Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune, who represents the entire city, said the lack of city pools open to the public was a “big issue that ... everyone is aware of.” She chalked up many of the closures to “deferred maintenance” over the years.

“We haven’t done the best job in investing in and maintaining our assets, and that’s on us to do a better job,” she said.

Officials are quick to mention there are other options for residents to cool down, including 15 cool centers at Boston Centers for Youth & Families locations.

Additionally, the Wu administration pointed to 64 splash pads that are open at parks and playgrounds throughout Boston. The city has also promoted Boston Public Library locations as places where residents can seek relief from the heat.

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The Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s water truck will be at the Chinatown Gate on the corner of Surface Road and Beach Street until 5 p.m. Friday.

Lastly, all of the 14 public pools and spray decks in Boston operated by the state are open, a state official confirmed this week.

During last summer’s heat wave, Boston Emergency Medical Services experienced about a 20-percent rise in daily 911 calls, according to Wu’s administration.

“Heat waves can endanger anyone, regardless of age or health, and it is critical for everyone to stay hydrated, limit outdoor activity when possible, and wear plenty of sunscreen,” said Wu in a statement earlier in the week.

The National Weather Service this week warned that the region should brace for dangerous heat, predicting that many communities in Southern New England are likely to experience the first official heat wave of the summer. That means temperatures will reach 90 degrees for at least three days in a row.

Temperatures Thursday could feel as high as 100 degrees in Boston and 98 in Providence, according to the heat index, which measures “how hot it really feels” when accounting for relative humidity. Those oppressive conditions will persist into Saturday, meteorologists said.

The weather service Thursday also warned of heavy downpours, localized flooding, a chance of “brief tornadoes,” and gale-force winds along coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A flood watch is in effect for major portions of the state, including flood-prone areas in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy. A gale warning is in effect for recreational boaters in coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island from 11 a.m. until midnight.

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Friday will be hot and humid, but without the storms expected Thursday. Another round of “severe storms and flash flooding” are possible on Saturday.

John R. Ellement of Globe staff and Globe correspondent Adri Pray contributed to this report.



Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him @Danny__McDonald.