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Industry shaping initiatives

By creating and following a model code, the pool and spa industry can better assure the bathing public will visit facilities that are maintained with the highest degree of safety and health.

By Connie Sue Centrella

The pool and spa industry is seeing change when it comes to regulations and public trust. National and regional associations, government entities and concerned pool/spa professionals are engaged in understanding, shaping and implementing new initiatives that are considered by many to be in the best interest of the public, and ultimately the future of the industry. This column offers a brief overview and update on the four trend-setting initiatives that have far reaching impact on every industry segment.

A uniform health and safety code

The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) is meant to serve as a model and guide for local and provincial/state agencies to update or implement a pool/spa code in their jurisdiction. There is currently no federal authority for disinfected recreational venues and there is no uniform standard related to the design, construction, maintenance and operation of aquatic facilities.

The responsibility of writing regulations rests in the hands of local and provincial/state officials. There is a broad spectrum of ideas on how to monitor and maintain the safety and health of bathers in public facilities, as the increase in recreational water illnesses, drowning and accidents in and around swimming pools and spas prompted industry leaders to seek a solution. The MAHC is a model. It is not a federal mandate, nor intended to be one.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) received an initial grant from the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) to develop the MAHC as a user-friendly and knowledge-based guidance document, based soundly on current science.

The first MAHC development workshop was held in Atlanta, Ga., in 2005, which brought together experts from various organizations and companies representing all segments of the pool and aquatic disciplines, with the mission to create a uniform model aquatic health code. To do so, technical committees were formed, with each committee appointing a chairperson and defining the scope of work for their section of the overall code.

The MAHC was developed via numerous meetings and countless man-hours. It comprises 12 modules, each in various stages of development by technical committees, including review, public comment and editing for uniformity by the steering committee.

Industry members are urged to be involved and submit comments during the comment periods. When each module is released, it is available for 60 days for public comment. Once all modules have been released, the whole module will again be posted for another round of public comment.

By creating and following a model code, the industry can better assure the bathing public will visit facilities that are maintained with the highest degree of safety and health.

“A national code would provide consistency and the ability to update when new science and technology comes out,” explains Tracynda Davis, MPH, NSPF’s director of environmental health programs. “Consistent standards help uniform data collection, which is necessary for illness and injury investigation and treatment. The MAHC uses evidence-based data to understand waterborne illness and appropriate treatment for prevention and remediation.”

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