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Aquatics Blog

Is Common Sense Drowning?

In the past few years the swimming pool industry has experienced an aggressive use of mandates of swimming pool codes without the inclusive interests of all stakeholders in the aquatic industry. The Virginia Graeme Baker Act cost the swimming pool industry hundreds of millions of dollars and there are new challenges that the current language does not go far enough. The Dept. of Justice has reinterpreted the ADA code for portable lifts “no longer applicable” for their intent. The Model of Aquatic Health Code public process is getting significant feedback from industry manufactures that may have their own agenda in mind and not benefiting from the collective wisdom of all stakeholders (owner/operators, designers, users, health code officials). These examples bring to question are we able to apply best practices to raise the standard of care and experience for aquatic patrons in the United States or will this effort be hijacked to promote narrowly focused agendas?

The swimming pool industry does not have one voice resulting in a fractured and frustrating process. Often the stakeholders that are impacted and most knowledgeable have no voice with limited time / financial resources to invest in lobbying efforts both at the authoring and approval stage. As a result, those that have the most to gain financially make the required investments to influence the outcome. The owner operator is left to comply in a constrained time period; only to have the codes reinterpreted a short while later.

When the Virginia Graeme Baker Act went into effect, the swimming pool industry literally scrambled to comply. Pools across the nation had to order and install new products, which hadn’t yet been designed. Numerous existing pools were closed due to unavailable parts, thus losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. This past fall the definition of an unblockable drain was redefined requiring additional. What you may not know is that there is a well-organized effort for additional substantive changes to the current VGB language that would require SVRS technology on all main drains. The logic seems to be that if the drain is not compliant and breaking the law, the industry needs to provide additional protection to protect the user. Where does common sense enter this discussion? Where is the research and data to justify such a distraction of national resources away from the benefits of swimming to the equipment centered approach.

There are other changes on the horizon including the recent tug of war between the Department of Justice and the Senate regarding the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act on commercial pools and spas. Other owner/operator requirements maybe in store through the 2012 International Swimming Pool & Spa Code and a separate effort being led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention known as the Model Aquatic Health Code.

With the recent emphasis on more industry mandates we must not lose our focus on teaching people to swim and how to use our treasured community assets to grow families and promote healthy lifestyles. Without the application of common sense, other scrambles maybe on the way? More lost revenue? More owners fearful of maintaining and building pools?

CALL TO ACTION!!!

It’s time we step up and make our voices heard in editorial and educational ways. As owner’s operators and designers, we know our industry. We know safety. We know design. Let’s use common sense and fact based science to promote what’s best for the industry instead of financial gain. Each one of us needs to make it a priority in time and money to participate in the ASTM, NSF, MAHC, CPSC, ICC/APSP decision making process. These groups don’t have the day to day experience of the owners / operators and they desperately need our collective wisdom to do what’s best for the industry.

 

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