Feature Article - March 2011
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Maintenance Series: Spraygrounds

Don't Walk Away
Spraygrounds Require Ongoing Maintenance

By Dawn Klingensmith

Texas, where his business operates, requires these secondary systems, and other states are expected to do the same. In fact, Sunbelt Pools was in the process of constructing a new spray park in Fort Worth when the stricter requirements went into effect. The park opened on time, in spring 2009, following the previous summer's outbreak of Cryptosporidium, which prompted the local health department to require the additional systems. Satisfying the requirements was not a challenge, but revising plans midway through the project and ensuring an on-time opening gave Sunbelt Pools a chance to shine.

Morgan actually advises clients to plan from the start to use secondary systems. His advice: Water should be "100 percent filtered, 100 percent chlorinated and 100 percent UV-treated," even where not required by code.

Retrofitting a UV treatment system to an existing splashpad is a one-day job for a qualified company, he added.

It's necessary to periodically monitor the intensity of the UV bulbs, but they usually last at least a year. But though these systems don't present any onerous maintenance responsibilities, they can be rendered ineffectual by inattention. "If you put off simple maintenance, you can have problems. The UV can't do its job if you have leaves backed up" in the system, Morgan warned.

Sanitation and safety concerns give rise to other maintenance responsibilities. For example, New York code requires sprayground operators to develop, update and implement a written safety plan including procedures for daily patron supervision. The code requires at least one staff person to provide periodic supervision of the sprayground as specified in the plan. In addition, spraygrounds must be maintained by a qualified swimming pool water treatment operator.

The supervisory staff "is an individual or individuals responsible for supervising and monitoring the sprayground to ensure compliance with regulations for use, is familiar with its equipment and is trained in the operation and maintenance of the spray pad treatment system," the code states. "The facility must have a qualified swimming pool operator to maintain the water treatment system and someone to provide the periodic supervision. These roles can be filled by the same or different individuals."

New York code goes on to state that daily inspections of each facility are necessary to ensure that adequate safety and sanitary conditions are maintained. Any problems such as unsafe water conditions, broken or malfunctioning equipment, loose drain grates and the like are to be reported and immediately corrected.

Daily compliance checks include equipment inspections; cleaning and flushing the splashpad prior to use; ensuring drains aren't blocked; checking disinfectant residual; and checking the UV light intensity meter. Complete daily operation records must be kept for each splashpad. An operation log must also be kept for the UV system.

Cracks in the spray pad or decking should be repaired if they present a tripping hazard or leakage potential, or if they interfere with the ability to properly clean and maintain the splash pad area. The deck should be kept clean and free of water puddles.

Concerning water flow, inlets must be adjusted to produce uniform circulation of water and to facilitate the maintenance of a uniform disinfectant residual throughout the treatment tank. The water level in the tank should be continuously maintained by an automatic control system.

To reduce health risks and maintenance problems, it is recommended that rules be posted prohibiting the use of glass containers on the splashpad and deck areas; prohibiting individuals with diarrhea from using the splashpad; advising patrons not to drink recirculated and chemically treated water; requiring the use of swim diapers and rubber pants; prohibiting patrons from spitting; and barring pets from the facility.