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While the aquatics industry is examining the health of the Chinese pool market, the Chinese are examining the health of the nation’s pools.

The government does not track the number and type of recreational water illness outbreaks at pools, according to Chinese aquatics experts. But they agree that a lack of solid standards creates a prime breeding ground for RWIs. In fact, when asked about standards, most operators are fuzzy at best about what the government requires.

“China’s swimming pool market standards are relatively low,” says Keju Lee, president of Pool Management Consulting in Harbin, China. “The Chinese government wants to meet the international standard.”

Some areas of China are already working on the problem. In Hong Kong, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department stepped up its publicity and educational campaign to keep pools clean. Its stricter policies include showering before entering, wearing clean slippers from the locker room to deck, forbidding sick individuals to swim and closer water monitoring. In addition, LCSD warns of surprise facility audits.

A survey taken four months after the policy implementations showed 73 percent of patrons noted “a remarkable improvement” over the previous swim season.

And in Beijing, several consultants and pool builders traveled from all over the nation to China’s first International Exhibition for Swimming Pools, Pool & Bath Technology, Saunas & Fitness Equipment last September. They came to attend a meeting on regulations.

Winson Lee was one of those attendees. As China’s only Certified Pool Operator course instructor, he makes the rounds through Taipei, Hong Kong and China, teaching approximately 50 students a year.

China lacks a group such as the National Swimming Pool Foundation, where Winson Lee obtained his CPO teaching credentials. “It’s all government. The government decides [the regulations] themselves,” Lee says. So until better standards are enforced, he will try to sign up new students and teach them about pool health.

Rocky Bai, president of Midland Environmental Co. Ltd, a pool construction and water circulation systems company in Shenyang, China, agrees that pool regulations are not very strict. Many facilities do not comply. However, he says, as the industry becomes more competitive, the regulations will tighten.

Bai took the CPO course with Winson Lee and says he learned a lot. “Before taking this class, I used a common method to test the water … the same way as tap water,” he says. “There are some organic compounds in the swimming pool that should be removed, but it doesn’t matter with tap water. Now that I’ve attended this class, I realize what I was doing was wrong.”