I make mistakes.
I’m not being humble. It’s just a fact. Every issue of
Aquatics International contains untold numbers of names and
facts. As the editor of this magazine, it’s my job to make
sure that everything you read is accurate. I take it very
That’s why I
have help, lots of it, from my senior editor (Kendra Kozen, whom
many of you have yet to meet) and my copy editor (Linda G. Green,
who works tirelessly behind the scenes). In fact, everything goes
through at least three rounds of multiple eyeballs looking over the
words on these pages to ensure they are correct.
If we do make a
mistake —and, sometimes, we do — it’s bad. But no
one gets hurt. No one dies.
same can’t be said of aquatics operations. When mistakes are
made at the pool, guests can become infected with RWIs. People can
drown. And every year they do.
watching over the shoulder of operators to make sure these mistakes
As our special
report, “ Uninspected Consequences ,” so vividly and
frighteningly shows, the answer in too many places is no one. The
people who should be doing it, health inspectors, are too busy, too
poorly funded or too distracted.
And mistakes happen.
Big ones. Such as water rides falling apart while people are riding
them. Or pools becoming so turbid, guests can’t see the
enough for trained operators to make mistakes. Pools and waterparks
are complex systems, after all. But many facilities aren’t
even run by such professionals. At these places — often
hotels and apartments — it’s common for the maintenance
staff or janitor to run the pool.
The industry needs
better oversight. Yet too many operators look upon health
departments as the enemy.
due to the problems our report points out: Health inspectors are
ill-trained. At a recent conference, one aquatics professional drew
gasps when he told about an inspector who insisted a facility
needed more chlorine because he couldn’t smell it.
Misunderstanding such basic water chemistry does not engender
respect. At the same time, the codes that inspectors are supposed
to enforce are inadequate or simply untenable.
Both problems must
be fixed, and it needs to start at the facility level. Operators
may not be able to increase funding for health inspectors, but they
can forge relationships with their local inspectors. They can let
their bosses know how important that relationship is to patron
health and safety, and urge them to fund those departments
appropriately. They can even offer to help train
entire industry should lend its support to the Model Aquatic Health
Code that’s being created under the direction of the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. Such a code would finally bring
together the ragtag set of standards throughout the nation into one
unified set of codes that is grounded in science and best
But even the best
operator with the best code can make mistakes. For aquatics to
truly grow in a healthy way, such an effort must be coupled with a
renewed appreciation and respect for health departments, and the
acceptance that even the best of us need someone to watch our
International welcomes feedback from readers. All correspondence
may be edited for clarity and space considerations. Please include
your complete name and contact information.Letters may be sent by mail to Aquatics
International, Attn: Editor, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600, Los
Angeles, CA 90048; by fax to 323.801.4986; or via e-mail to
Credit: Gary Thill