Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Progress on the Model Aquatic Health Code

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Progress on the Model Aquatic Health Code

Article excerpt

Aquatic facility operators are likely aware of the new Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), which was designed to provide a template, with scientifically supported backup, for states to update their aquatic health codes. There are 14 modules that have been written, opened for public content, and are now being "interwoven" into a complete first-draft document. This is expected to be completed in the first few months of 2014. It will then be reopened for public comment for the second, and final, round. The complete first edition of the MAHC is expected by summer 2014.

A Little Historical Review

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) secured a grant from the National Swimming Pool Foundation to act in concert with public health and aquatic industry representatives to prevent drowning and aquatic-related injuries while also reducing the numbers of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) at public pools and spas. In 2005, the CDC sponsored a workshop that addressed these issues. The result was the realization that the country did not have consistent standards and that the states often had widely differing levels of recreational water and facility regulation. So, it became a priority to create a model code that states could used to update their policies.

Why is the MAHC Important to Pool Operators?

The MAHC will be used by the states to update, augment or even rewrite their aquatic health codes. This has a direct effect on aquatic facility operators since they will need to comply with their new state codes. It may take several years for the states to study and adopt new codes based on the MAHC. In the meantime, pool operators should familiarize themselves with the portions of the model code that would require changes to their facility construction, operation and staffing. While the MAHC will be overwhelmingly positive for the health and safety of pool operations, it does have a downside in the amount of money, time and effort required for operators to meet the new standards.

The Modules and Their Effects on Facility Operators

The modules listed below are arranged in order of how they are listed on the CDC website. Each module will be named and its possible effect discussed.

* Facility Design and Construction Module. Impact: This module only applies to new construction or renovations of older facilities. Depending on the age and condition of a current facility, the increased costs to meet the module's requirements may be 10 or more years in the future.

* Risk Management/Safety Module. Impact: Pools that have fallen behind industry standards of chemical storage, staff training, use of safety monitoring systems and general employee/patron health will need to update. Operators should not expect their state codes to allow safety aspects of a facility to be delayed or grandfathered in.

* Facility Maintenance and Operation Module. Impact: Just like in risk management, facilities that are not professionally managed will need to dramatically improve their procedures and documentation of the healthfulness of the facility.

* Monitoring and Testing Module. Impact: It will be very difficult to meet the module's requirements without a large outlay of funds for chemical controllers and comprehensive chemical test kits. Operators need to assess the costs for the changes and work now to get the funding for when they will need it.

* Contamination Burden Module. …

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