When Doug Sackett accepted a summer job inspecting pools for the New York State Department of Health, he never expected that decision would have such a lasting impact. Now, more than 30 years later, he’s still working for the NYSDOH.
His experience has proven invaluable to his work on the Model Aquatic Health Code, a project spearheaded by
the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, which will ultimately establish
a set of national standards for pool operation. As director of the
project, Sackett’s charged with keeping the process moving
and overseeing the technical committees responsible for writing
various sections of the code.
But even before work on the Model Aquatic Health Code began in
2007, Sackett, then assistant director of the Bureau of Community
Environmental Health & Food Protection for the NYSDOH, was
already making waves in the industry.
In 2005 the state was hit with one of the largest cryptosporidium
outbreaks ever connected to recreational water. Several thousand
people were sickened after exposure at a spraypark in Geneva, N.Y.,
resulting in a class action lawsuit. Recognizing that sprayparks
posed a serious health threat due to the fact that they were not
regulated under pool codes, Sackett led efforts to develop a new
state code for spraypark design and operation. Among other
requirements, the codes mandate that every New York spraypark
include UV water-treatment systems. Since adoption in 2006, the
codes have become a kind of model for similar regulations that are
being considered or have since been adopted in other states, such
But Sackett’s work doesn’t stop at recreational water
illnesses. The standard procedures he’s created for drowning
investigations have improved data collection, which has in turn
strengthened lifeguard training programs and impacted pool design
Additionally, Sackett is a member of the Board of Directors for the
Pool Foundation, serving on NSPF’s Technical Advisory
Committee for the Certified Public Pool Inspector Training Program,
and on the American Red Cross Technical Advisory Team for the
Lifeguard Management Program (2002).
“Even after 34 years, there’s still something to
learn,” he says of his continued commitment to aquatics.
“I like the technical aspects, and I still have a natural
curiosity and drive to find ways to make things better.”