Feature Article - September 2009
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Sink or Swim

How Waterparks Are Surfing the Economic Waves

By Dawn Klingensmith

The Virginia Graeme Baker Law

In effect since Dec. 19, 2008, this federal law is designed to prevent drain entrapments and eviscerations. It requires all public pools and spas to have ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 compliant drain covers installed along with a second anti-entrapment system when there is a single main drain other than an un-blockable drain. See www.poolsafety.gov for a list of companies that manufacture approved drain covers.

In the broadest sense, how will the Virginia Graeme Baker Law affect commercial waterparks?

Waterparks, like all other aquatic venues, will be required to install new grates that are either off-the-shelf compliant grates or have custom-made grates certified by a professional engineer. Because waterparks tend to have larger pools, the drains are larger and often custom-built. Compliant grating material has just recently become available to construct into these large, custom-built drains. There is a great demand for engineering time to evaluate and certify these systems.

More specifically, what actions must waterparks take to be in full compliance?

First, waterpark operators need to evaluate whether they have drains that require custom-built grates. If they do, they need to contact a professional engineer who is licensed and experienced to do this type of work. Having schematics, pump and sump information will help to expedite the process. The engineer will evaluate the system and make recommendations to replace grates and make sump modifications, if needed. Once grates are replaced, the waterpark operator will need a letter of compliance from the professional engineer.

Source: Franceen Gonzales, vice president of risk management, Great Wolf Resorts Inc., Madison, Wis.