Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

September 2018

NSPF Endorses MAHC Adoption

All state, territory and local health departments, aquatic facilities, and the aquatics industry at large should evaluate and adopt all or part of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), according to a recent position statement from the nonprofit National Swimming Pool Foundation. The goal of such adoption would be protecting not only aquatic staff and patrons, but the facilities themselves.

The nation's only all-inclusive model pool code, the MAHC is based on scientific data and best practices gathered by public health and aquatics industry experts, making it more expedient for jurisdictions to justify, adopt and implement. Unlike legislation, the MAHC is voluntarily adopted, wholly in part, and driven by expertise. It is free, publicly accessible and backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also endorsed by the Commercial Energy Specialists (CES), Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).

While helpful, the more than 85 environmental health codes relative to the design, construction and operation of public swimming pools offer no cohesive national public health standard and potentially thwart public health efforts.

"The current redundant system of updating, maintaining, administering and enforcing local swimming pool and spa code represents waste of government resources, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and misguided efforts of the facilities, manufacturers, designers, builders and suppliers engaged in updating and complying with inconsistent codes," said Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., NSPF CEO.

The CDC reports 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water in 46 U.S. states and Puerto Rico from 2000 to 2014. Yearly, approximately 200,000 individuals seek emergency care for injuries associated with swimming pools, and nearly 700 experience fatal drowning in the United States. Additionally, a five-state study of inspection data showed that 12.3 percent of routine inspections resulted in immediate closure due to violations seriously threatening public health. Without adoption of a uniform code, dissimilar codes proliferate, while recreational water illness and drowning rates remain tragically high.

The MAHC 3rd Edition was released on July 18, 2018, and addresses emerging health topics, including Legionella decontamination and the design and operation of floatation tanks, as well as ongoing challenges like natatorium noise reduction. The updates implement changes approved during the 2017 Vote on the Code and submitted to CDC by the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC). Moving forward, the CMAHC will work with the CDC to update the code every three years, with the next Vote on the Code conference to be held in 2020.

The CMAHC is seeking members as well as sponsors to help move the MAHC forward and support adoption, as well as to fill roles in the submission review and discussion process. Learn more about helping out at

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