Aquatics was a seasonal gig that turned into a career for Dennis Berkshire. As a student at California’s San Jose State University, he took a job at a local pool and spa retail store with no intention of working more than the summer. Now, nearly three decades later, he has firmly established a career in aquatics.
“It’s human nature to be drawn to recreational water,” Berkshire says. “The commercial aquatics industry provides a nice mix of fun and excitement with the technical side of mechanical and chemical treatment systems.”
An 11-year veteran at Aquatic Design Group, Berkshire now is senior associate, working as director of client services. In that role he acts as a project manager for the design and implementation of numerous aquatic venues each year, while also overseeing other staff project managers.
Additionally, Berkshire became a certified CPO instructor for the National Swimming Pool Foundation in the early 1990s, and later a certified Aquatics Facility Operator instructor for the National Recreation and Parks Association.
“Working with various manufacturers, I was often working with various regulatory agencies,” Berkshire says. “More and more I’ve found myself training some of these people.”
He brought all that experience with him when he was named chair of the Operator Training Technical Committee for the Model Aquatic Health Code. This committee has been tasked with establishing requirements and minimum standards for public pool operator training and certification, and course curriculum. Part of that work has included identifying research that documents reduced incidents of pool code violations when there’s a certified operator in charge. And it’s been anything but straightforward.
“First and foremost, I thought this portion of the code would be relatively quick and easy and non-confrontational,” Berkshire says. “It turns out, there was a lot more involved.”
The Operator Training Module draft was the first module to be completed and posted online for public comment, and according to Berkshire it took 1½ years to get to that point. Of course, without technology it would have taken much longer he adds. From the beginning, the plan was to start with the broad scope and narrow it down from there, addressing the challenge of limited research along the way.
“Working as a project manager I’m used to starting with a blank piece of paper and then bringing all the parties together,” Berkshire says.
As a professional, he says he also recognizes the need for the code.
“What one place requires could be diametrically opposed to what another place requires, and technology has far surpassed many of the regulations” Berkshire says. “With MAHC, the idea is that our work could serve as a unifying code.”