Feature Article - February 2006
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

Just Add Water

By Kelli Anderson


GET CERTIFIED

When it comes to water-quality control, staff members need to be ever vigilant.

"We have an engineer constantly on the job—looking at motors, valves, oiling—they're always on it," says Perry Kanelos, director of aquatics at Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark at Grand Geneva's Moose Mountain Falls in Lake Geneva, Wis. "They have to be A.F.O.- and C.P.O.-certified."

Water-quality maintenance, central to preventing corrosion from wreaking havoc on everything from stainless-steel rails to filtration systems, must be handled by those who know how to control it. Veterans will tell you that even with today's automated systems, checking pool samples by hand is still a fail-safe way to ensure all systems are go. Only trained staff can know how to evaluate and treat the complexities of ph, total alkalinity, total dissolved solids, temperature and calcium hardness.

IN THE SAFETY ZONE

Another essential staffing choice is in the area of safety—lifeguards. With the safety of patrons a paramount responsibility, it remains a surprising fact, based on reports of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that even where required, about one in four operators do not have proper training. Certified, well-trained lifeguards are assets every public aquatic center should not be without.

Although certification differs depending on the type of aquatic facility, with waterparks often using Ellis & Associates, municipal pools using the American Red Cross, or agencies using the YMCA, principles of practice and evaluation are very similar.

"We use Ellis & Associates for our training program," Stuart says. "We have to meet the 10/20 rule where our lifeguards see if they can see the problem in 10 seconds and get to the zone in 20." Zones, areas patrolled by a lifeguard, are determined by whether staff can see the top and bottom of a zone and their ability to get potential victims out of the water in 30 seconds.

Because light and glare changes during the day and with the seasons, zones should be evaluated continually for line of sight.

"We have zone validation every month," Stuart says. "It changes. Glare changes. Are there few people in the park? Lots? It's an ongoing evaluation to make sure you have good protection."