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 quality.”

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.

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