Behind every good waterpark is a good … waterpark code? That’s at least what a number of industry professionals might say who are working to develop new regulations.
In all, three new ASTM standards currently are under consideration for
inflatable slides and inflatable water play elements; stationary
wave machines; and conveyor systems.
The need to create standards for each of these attractions became
apparent for different reasons, said Andreas Tanzer, manager of
product development at ProSlide Technology Inc. in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Generally “[it happens] when an item gains popularity and
broadens its usage … sometimes it’s incident driven.
Sometimes it’s just an obvious need because things are
ballooning out of control,” he added.
In the case of inflatables slides and play structures, Tanzer was
more specific about the need. “One of the big key issues is
[addressing inflatables], not only from a design standpoint, but
also from a water quality standpoint,” he said.
“There’s nothing that pertains to water
Tanzer has been involved with ASTM for nearly a decade. As chair of
F2470, the ASTM subcommittee that deals with water-related
activities he’s heading up the effort to create standards for inflatables.
ASTM members meet twice a year, once in February and once in
October, and by the meeting next month Tanzer hopes to have a core
group of 5-8 individuals who will draft the standards.
Like Tanzer, Harlan Bryant is heading up a group that will
establish New Practice for Water Slide Conveyors for Rafts, Tubes, and Guests.
“We’re really just getting going, said Bryant, by day a
district engineer at Hyland Hills Water World, near Denver.
“What we’ve been doing is some research on what codes
are out there that pertain to conveyors. How do they fit what
we’re doing and how do they not correspond?”
It was Bryant who initially suggested a look at conveyor systems.
Hyland Hills installed a new hydromagnetic water coaster in July.
The ride relies on a conveyor system, and through the development
process it became clear to him that standards were needed.
Colorado’s Aerial Tramway Safety Board regulates conveyor systems
at ski areas and rather than face regulation under those
guidelines, Bryant wanted standards that apply specifically to
aquatic environments. Others at ASTM agreed.
Now Bryant expects it will take up to four years to complete the
process, which is not unheard of for a brand new standard.
Additions or changes to existing standards are often completed in
12 to 24 months.
The process is also underway with establishing standards for
stationary wave machines. The group charged with creating
guidelines has met twice so far. ASTM working group WK31624 - New
Specification for the Classification, Design, Manufacture,
Construction, and Operation of Standing Wave Systems, is led by
Mariana Frey, with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The standards will
be the first to address this growing product category. Judgments in
recent lawsuits over patent infringement have left more room for
competition in the marketplace, according to manufacturers.
“As new facilities are being built not everyone has a Flow
Rider and knows what it will do. … ASTM standards provide a
baseline outline,” said Franceen Gonzales, vice president of
risk management and aquatics at Great Wolf Resorts Inc., based in Madison, Wis.
Gonzales has also been involved with ASTM for a number of years and
now serves as secretary general for ASTM F24, the overarching
committee that deals with amusement rides. She, Frey and Bryant,
also both operators, believe it’s important that committees
have a varied wealth of experience. That means including a mix of
operators, manufacturer representatives (like Tanzer) and other stakeholders.
The ASTM process is designed to be transparent and accessible to
anyone online. Members working on a specific task most often meet
via conference calls and e-mail.
Overall, “operators need to be knowledgeable of what
standards are out there,” said Gonzales.