A number of sprayparks in the state of New York did not open this summer due to the controversial and costly emergency health code requiring ultraviolet disinfection systems.
The code was installed in January in response to the spraypark outbreak at Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, N.Y., last summer. The outbreak sickened nearly 4,000 people. Health officials determined cryptosporidium, found in the holding tanks, was the cause.
As a result, many sprayparks around the state have been required to install UV systems or switch to a wading pool, or face closure. Those implementing UV also delayed facility openings due to long permitting processes.
?We require any establishment to comply with state laws,? said Jeffrey Hammond, spokesperson for the New York Department of Health. ?So if they want to do a spraypark, they need to comply with spraypark regulations.?
The ruling caused a financial headache for Bruce Schaefer, who did not have the budget to purchase and install a UV system on his spray pad, which he had been running for three summers. The spray pad had brought in 30 percent more sales for his establishment.
?The health department said it happened up there, so it could happen here,? said Schaefer, general manager of Catskill Game Farm in Catskill, N.Y. ?We?ve never once had a problem with any kind of sickness because we?re very fussy with it. But now we had to shut it down because of one place. [Instead], we have a $320,000 sand bed now.?
The Christian Youth Organization in Staten Island, N.Y., had just finished building a spraypark that would be available to summer camps and special needs programs, but was not allowed to open due to the regulations, said Tony Napolitano, consultant for the CYO.
Napolitano agreed that steps needed to be taken to ensure the same outbreak would not be repeated, but he thought the state should have provided more alternatives so parks could open safely.
The spraypark at Seneca Lake State Park was refitted with an expanded filtration system and a UV system. A fence now surrounds the pad, with warning signs not to drink the water or enter if suffering from a gastrointestinal illness. It will open in mid-July.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weight loss and other symptoms. It can be spread through fecal matter introduced into a recreational water setting and takes nearly a week to be destroyed by chlorine.