Doug Sackett
Doug Sackett

Doug Sackett has worked in aquatics since he came to the New York State Health Department more than 30 years ago, and in that time he’s been responsible for a lot. But not even an investigation of a major 2005 crypto outbreak that has resulted in the industry’s first class action lawsuit compares with his work overseeing the Model Aquatic Health Code.

“The MAHC is definitely the most far-reaching project I’ve worked on,” Sackett notes.

He’s been involved since the idea was first raised at a 2005 CDC workshop on RWIs. Once funding was secured (through an initial grant of approximately $90,000 from the National Swimming Pool Foundation) and the project was under way, he helped get the word out and recruit the group of interested volunteers who would be come members of the steering and technical committees.

From the beginning, that has meant securing involvement from all interested parties, including health officials, pool operators, industry manufacturers and aquatic designers.

“The importance of having the different stakeholders involved and getting the best team in place was clear,” Sackett says.

He also understands the proactive approach that’s behind MAHC. Following that 2005 outbreak, stemming from a spraypark in Geneva, N.Y., Sackett helped craft ground-breaking new rules to better protect spraypark patrons.

Still, he adds, MAHC is not about regurgitating what’s already been done. The goal is to recommend scientifically proven best practices, and develop a plan to address areas that need more research.

“If we end up with the product we’re hoping to, the industry will have a public document outlining requirements that are really soundly based on science,” Sackett says.

For his part, he says “it will be kind of a relief to see it all come to fruition and then worry about next steps. The project is already leading to new research, some of it a logical extension of work that has already been done.”