New Yearprognostications aren’t for the timid.
Invariably, the predictor ends up looking ridiculous when
the forecasts don’t come to pass. No matter how
much experience or inside information you might have, the
world has a way of surprising you. Put another way, want to
make God laugh? Make a plan.
All those caveats aside, here are five aquatic issues
I’ll be watching in 2011. I’ve also made
predictions about what I think will happen with each of
1 ADA. After years of existing as
merely a guideline, the federal government finally made the
Americans with Disability Act swimming pool guidelines a
law. After March 2011, facilities will have one year to
comply with the standard for accessible design or face
potential liability. If VGB is any indication of what
happens when a federal law goes into effect, this one will
have some serious impacts — and lead to much
confusion and hand wringing.
My Prediction: Given the industry’s track
record with past federal law enactments (see No. 3 on the
list), the majority of facilities will still be scrambling
to comply come March. Many will likely be surprised that
such a change had even happened. Don’t be among
them. Make it a point to learn about ADA and how it applies
to your facility. There’s a great discussion about
that very subject on AI Connect.
2 MAHC. After years of work, the
CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code is finally ready
for its close-up. All aquatics professionals would be wise
to pay attention. The MAHC is the first attempt to create a
unified national aquatic code. The goal is to provide a set
of best practices — based on science and data
— that states can adopt whole or in part as their
own. The first module (operator training) is officially out
for public comment. That’s the first of 12 such
modules. Yes, the MAHC is ambitious and far-reaching. And
you can bet that one of the first groups of people to be
studying it will be plaintiff's attorneys.
My Prediction: Most professionals will fail to take part
in the public comment process. This same group will
complain that no one gave them the opportunity. They will
rail against the new best practices document and decry this
latest example of big-brotherism on the part of the federal
3 VGB. After three years as a federal
law, you’d think this would have finally gone
away. What could possibly be worth watching about the
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act? Plenty.
On the bright side, CPSC’s Pool Safely program,
which was in its infancy in 2010, will see an impressive
maturation in 2011. CPSC has teamed with new partners and
its anti-drowning message for consumers and professionals
is gaining strength. On the other hand, even three years
after implementation, questions, concerns and confusion
remain about VGB, and CPSC investigation is ongoing.
My Prediction: VGB will continue to vex the industry
with ongoing issues around installation and
4 Air quality. The studies and the
evidence keep mounting: Disinfection byproducts in aquatic
environments are harmful. Some studies show a link to
asthma. Newer studies even suggest a link to cancer.
Naysayers can question the studies all they want, but
it’s no longer possible to deny that air quality
is a central issue for aquatics and will become even more
so in 2011.
My Prediction: More studies will make links to DBPs and
harmful effects. Most aquatic professionals will either
ignore such studies or refuse to act on the changes they
recommend. A major lawsuit or a series of them will finally
force the industry to take notice.
5 Credit. As our main news story makes
clear, credit is still a big issue for aquatics, especially
waterparks. One consistent message I hear from architects
and designers is that demand for new parks is there, but no
one can get credit. Unfortunately, until credit becomes
more accessible, the industry’s economic recovery
will continue to stumble and stutter. There’s a
lot riding on this one.
My Prediction: Credit will remain tight, but slowly
start to loosen as the year goes on. Private waterpark
projects will remain the most difficult to finance.