The groups behind the industry’s two primary model codes are working together to more closely align their language.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the groups behind the Model Aquatic Health Code have agreed to make certain changes to their respective model codes to minimize conflicts.
But making these changes does not occur as simply as a hand-shake. Both the MAHC and the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) require formal processes for making changes, during their three-year rewriting cycles.
APSP hit its first milestone in April, after voters on the ISPSC approved 15 change proposals that it submitted as a result of the meetings with the MAHC organizers.
The process began in October, partly as the result of a confrontation that took place between representatives of the two codes over the summer. The state of Arizona had begun exploring how to update its public pool rules, when it announced that the Model Aquatic Health Code would serve as a resource. APSP objected, citing various jurisdictions in the state that had already incorporated the ISPSC. As a result, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality started from scratch and began reviewing the two model codes.
In autumn, representatives from APSP met with members of the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the hopes of synching up the content of the model codes. The ISPSC, written by APSP and the International Code Council (ICC), pertains to residential and commercial installations. On the other hand, the MAHC, which falls under the jurisdiction of the CDC, addresses commercial pools, spas and aquatics centers. Both are model codes, which means they only take effect in jurisdictions that choose to adopt them.
Professionals became concerned that, should a municipality or state adopt one code for the building codes and the other for the health codes, any inconsistencies would become difficult to manage.
“If there happens to be dual adoption, meaning the building code people bring ISPSC in and then there’s the public health pool code, then you want to make sure that you’ve limited inconsistencies between the two groups, and you minimize issues with dual jurisdiction between building code officials and public health officials,” said Michael Beach, the CDC official who oversees the MAHC.
As a result of the meetings, APSP proposed 15 changes to its ISPSC during the revision process. These change requests were mutually agreed upon by the ISPSC and MAHC camps.
“I think the October meeting was really a great meeting, very refreshing,” said Beach, the CDC’s deputy director, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases and associate director for healthy water. “I think we made great headway, which is why we’re going to be working together.”
All 15 have passed to the next phase, which involves another hearing. However, for any one of the change requests to fail, two thirds of the voters in that round would have to give it the thumbs-down. So the proposals have passed their highest hurdle, said APSP Technical Committee Chair Steve Barnes.
“There was no one speaking in opposition [to the proposals] other than nuances on commas and really minor details,” he said. “So I anticipate that all these will ultimately make it into the 2021 edition.”
Including APSP’s, there were approximately 50 proposals, known as change requests, for the ISPSC. Those that passed the first round are expected to be published in May, with a public comment period to follow. Final hearings take place in October.
To promote consistent language in the future, a standing committee will form, containing representatives of both codes. In the future, they will look at adjustments to the MAHC, which also undergoes revision every three years. The most recent version is expected to be released in July, so it will be a while before it comes under review again.
When the review cycle comes around for the MAHC, that contingent is expected to advocate for other changes agreed upon by both groups. That will be a while, however. Revisions for the 2018 edition of the MAHC were completed and voted on last fall, and the new version is expected to be published this summer. So new changes will not be taken until the 2021 cycle begins.
“I think it’s a milestone event,” Barnes said. “If this goes through, we will be harmonized with the MAHC, or at a minimum of conflicts.”