Williams contracted the infection from a splash pad that officials later determined was improperly tested and maintained.
At a news conference, attorneys for Williams’ parents said the child’s death was preventable.
Arlington, in a statement, said the settlement will include a “significant investment in the installation of health and safety equipment and other improvements for our public pools and splash pads.”
The city will distribute a new policy manual, the Bakari Williams Protocol, that will guide staff on water treatment, according to Hargrove and the city. “We plan to share this information with other agencies in the aquatics industry so they can learn from our hard lessons,” the city said.
New technology will automatically shut off any splash pads where water readings are not in the acceptable ranges and the addition of QR codes will allow visitors to see real-time information about water quality, the statement, obtained by KTVT, said.
“We want you to know that Bakari was a sweet, beautiful and innocent child who did not deserve to die in the manner that he did. For us, this case has been about public awareness,” Williams’ mother, Kayla Mitchell, said at the news conference, according to the affiliate.
“We want to make certain that nothing like this ever happens again. We want to make certain that what happened to our son, what happened to our family, does not happen to anybody else,” said Mitchell.
Investigation into the source of infection
The city immediately closed that splash pad, the news release says, and out of an abundance of caution closed the other three public splash pads for the remainder of the year.
On September 24, the CDC, according to the news release, determined the child was likely to be exposed to the organism at the splash pad after tests confirmed the presence of active Naegleria fowleri amoeba in water samples from the park.
Low chlorine levels likely to factor
The city of Arlington conducted an investigation into the splash pad’s maintenance, equipment and water testing procedures. Officials determined the water quality testing data needed improvement.
“We have identified gaps in our daily inspection program,” Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph said in the 2021 news release. “Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads. All of the splash pads will remain closed until we have assurance that our systems are operating as they should, and we have confirmed a consistent maintenance protocol with city, county and state standards.”
Records from two of the splash pads, including the one at Don Misenhimer Park, showed employees did not consistently record, or in some cases did not conduct, water quality testing that is required before the facilities open each day, according to the news release. The testing includes checking for chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant.
A review of the logs determined that water chlorination readings were not documented two of the three days that the child visited the park in late August and early September, the news release said.
“Documents show that chlorination levels two days before the child’s last visit were within acceptable ranges,” reads the release. “However, the next documented reading, which occurred the day after the child visited, shows that the chlorination level had fallen below the minimum requirement and that additional chlorine was added to the water system.”
CNN’s Amanda Jackson, Amir Vera and Lauren M. Johnson contributed to this report.