Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed Senate Bill 968, setting state standards for sprayparks and interactive fountains. The legislation comes as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on a 2007 crypto outbreak cites a need for increased regulation, monitoring and partnership between operators and health officials.
Regulations are still being finalized, but a draft version requires automatic disinfectant and pH feed systems, sets standards for chemical levels and testing, and requires a supplemental disinfection such as UV or ozone.
“This is not a ‘crypto bill,’ but a recreational water illness prevention bill that’s going to benefit all of Texas,” said Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services director. “The fact that we did not have regulations demonstrates there are outdated pool codes. I would encourage anyone in states where there are no regulations to explore taking action.”
Thompson brought the matter to Sen. Royce West, who sponsored the legislation.
“It gives counties and cities the ability to monitor these interactive sprayparks,” West said of the bill.
The CDC report details the findings of a crypto outbreak associated with an Idaho splashpark in which 45 cases were identified. It states that “… governments should consider including splashparks in the pool code and requiring pre-construction health department consultation, supplemental disinfection technology (e.g., ultraviolet light), appropriate hygiene facilities, and education of splashpark operators and the public.”
“The investigation found that issues identified as contributing to the outbreak possibly could have been avoided if the local health department had been consulted during the design phase,” said Michele Hlavsa, CDC epidemiologist. “What it comes down to is, basically, interactive fountains are no different than pools. ...”
in addition to the Texas legislation, other operators are beginning to get the message. At a city council meeting last spring, Michigan City (Mich) Parks Department superintendent Jan Orlich requested additional funding to complete a new splash pad. She stressed the need for careful monitoring and maintenance to prevent water-borne illnesses such as crypto.
“They’re almost a larger concern that our swimming pools,” said Orlich of the splash pads.