Supplement Feature - February 2013
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Calm Water

Trends in Aquatic Health & Safety

By Wynn St. Clair

Beach expects the entire MAHC—the complete document that knits all 14 modules together—to be posted for review in the first half of 2013. After the public comment period ends, the input will be weighed before the final draft is posted. The official MAHC should be ready by year's end, Beach said, but some communities have already adopted some of the existing modules as part of their codes.

CDC officials acknowledge that they wish the process could have moved faster, but they stress the importance of transparency and public input over a hurried timeline. With more than 130 volunteers serving on the various technical committees and hundreds of pages of public comments submitted, the initiative benefits from myriad viewpoints.

"It was a very transparent process. It wasn't written by someone who locked themselves in a room and came up with a new model code," Beach said. "We keep telling people that this is an evolution, not a revolution. We're not looking to turn this thing upside down."

Without the code, requirements for preventing and responding to recreational water illnesses will continue to vary significantly from state to state—and sometimes even city to city.

Even when national laws like the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act were enacted, state and county agencies were left to evaluate the codes on their own. Having so many codes places an exceptional financial burden on industry and government, experts said. A lack of uniformity also fails to ensure that aquatic managers and public health officials are getting the most up-to-date information about industry data and new scientific studies.

"Imagine all the money and time being wasted with each community writing its own code," said Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO with the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). "It's a fabulous waste of money, and it's a fabulous waste of time."