Category Archives: Regulation

2014 Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook Released

The 2014 edition of the Pool & Spa OperatorHandbook, published by non-profit National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®), is now available and includes important updates and a new look. Offered in English and Spanish with both U.S. and Metric units, this fundamental training and reference manual is including operators, health officials, service who help keep pools safer, and open. Important updates to the 2014 version are found in Chapters 2, 6, 16, and Appendix C-3.

  • Chapter 2: Updated Material Safety Data Sheet section with information about transition to SDS (Safety Data Sheets) terminology and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
  • Chapter 6: A short section about the Ryznar Stability Index (RSI), another saturation index used by some industry professionals, has been added.
  • Chapter 16: Now includes a brief section, which describes the new Swimming Pool & Spa Routine Maintenance online course from NSPF.
  • Appendix C-3: A summary on two new Module Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) modules has been added: Fecal/Blood/Vomit Contamination Response module; and Preface/User Guide/Glossary modules are now included.

“NSPF has once again updated the Pool & Spa Operator handbook to be the most current reference manual in the industry. This will ensure that NSPF Instructors and professionals who focus on keeping pools and spas safer, and open, are educating to the most current industry standards,” said Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., NSPF Director of Educational Programs. The Pool & Spa Operator Handbook is also wearing a new cover with a copy of original artwork in pastel, titled “Swimmer” created in 1997, by acclaimed artist Mela Lyman, whose passion for swimming is often reflected in her artwork. Lyman has been on the faculty of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the combined degree program at Tufts University for over 20 years. To see more of Mela Lyman’s art, visit www.MelaLyman.

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MAHC Recirculation Systems and Filtration (CH Comments)

CDC posts the Model Aquatic Health Code’s module for Recirculation Systems and Filtration for public comment with a closing date of October 9, 2013. Hydrologicblog posted this announcement with the supporting documents.

Recirculation Systems and Filtration

The Counsilman – Hunsaker team posted a group response in support of the public comment requirements. This response can be viewed at the below link.

MAHC Recirculation Systems Filtration comments

How Confident A Swimmer Are YOU?

While lifeguarding an open-water practice swim for about 200 people, I noticed two swimmers together, both women with their heads raised out of the water.  Since this is both a sign of and precursor to fatigue which can lead to swimming distress, I chose to warn them about crossing the upcoming canal, a 200-yard stretch of water where they would find no place to rest if they opted to proceed.

I try to keep my comments light.  I don’t want to worry or panic anyone.  Open-water swimming is mostly a mental game, and the darkness of the water can quickly take you to dark spaces in your mind.  A swim course isn’t lined with spectators, so lifeguards often find themselves coaches and cheerleaders, as well as keen watchers and early warners.  In the more relaxed practice environment, we are also educators.  By engaging swimmers, however briefly, we can (and often do) share tips for a successful swim.

While many welcome the free education, our lifeguard perspective on swimming and safety is not always welcome.  When I asked, “How are we doing, ladies?” and began to address their head-up body position, one of them shot back, “We’re FINE!  I’m her COACH!”

This defensive and angry response is common.  In fact, lifeguard training includes ways to handle the about-to-be rescued, many of whom refuse help, and vehemently.  People find it embarrassing to be assisted or advised, especially in front of an audience.  But lifeguards mean it when we say that we’re just doing our job.  And that is to warn, and then wait, and sometimes warn again.  To recognize and respond, but never reprimand.  To signal, support, and swim you back to safety.  Because we understand that conditions and people can change without warning.  The combination of tired, adventurous, a stiff wind, or strong current can alter the expected outcome of anyone’s swim.

So here’s the rub, Coach.  To a lifeguard watching everyone, you are a cap in the water, no more special or different or exempt from supervision and direction than any other swimmer.  And of the two of you, the one more likely to die in a triathlon or open-water swim is not that novice athlete you’re training.  It’s YOU.

Emerging research from New Jersey-based Triton Water Rescue suggests that triathletes may be categorized as under-confident, confident, and over-confident.   Under-confident swimmers may be relieved to know that they are least likely to die in competition.  Much of their behavior is consistent with obvious signs of distress, such as rolling over on the back or frequently switching stroke.  Under-confident swimmers demonstrate poor technique, such as a fast but inefficient kick or arm action, or the head raised out of the water for long periods of time, all of which can lead to early fatigue, and ultimately panic.drowning

Under-confident swimmers are the subjects of lifeguard radio chatter.  “Lifeguard six, be advised of a female swimmer, full wetsuit, green cap, number 629, keeps rolling over on her back.”  But while they garner a lot of attention, they are also self-monitors, and more apt to abandon a swim on their own.  If they don’t, the other likely scenario is that they will be pulled out by water rescue crews—not because they are in grave danger, but because the constant supervision of a few compromises overall water safety for others.

Confident swimmers are just that, in the water and in life.  They know where they stand, and they’re okay with it.  Many have strong swimming and self-rescue skills, and enough experiences in open water to make them discerning of the changing conditions of nature and/or their own bodies.  They have what we call a healthy fear and respect of water.  Confident swimmers value water rescue teams, because they recognize the inherent dangers of open-water swimming, and because they know that on any day, anyone, including they themselves, could need help.  Confident swimmers are most likely to say, “It’s not a swimming day,” and even abandon a race if conditions seem treacherous.

Over-confident swimmers may be surprised to learn that they are in the highest risk group.  They are their own trainers, motivators, protectors.  They count on their intense mental and physical preparation, incredible strength and endurance, and sheer will and determination, all legitimately earned and a credit to themselves, to get them though any difficulty.  Most likely to believe that nothing bad can or will ever happen to them, changing conditions are merely a challenge, another opportunity to master the next level and reaffirm their belief that they are not mere creatures in a larger world.  They expect to rise above nature.

The crack, though, in the neoprene armor is that many over-confident athletes don’t LISTEN, to others or to themselves.  With so many personal and professional accomplishments, what more can they learn from a lifeguard?  Of the 31 recorded triathlon swim deaths that occurred in the US between 2003 and 2011, the majority were of accomplished experienced multi-medal-earners.  One  theory is that they all had unknown pre-existing medical conditions or suffered “sudden cardiac arrest”, but water safety experts aren’t convinced.  Cardiac death is the end of a life-threatening health problem.  It’s rarely the beginning.  Something happens long before the heart stops to indicate the body is in distress.  Usually, it’s a feeling.

After all the intense training, a mere “feeling”, however bad, that occurs in the middle of a swim, when it’s inconvenient to stop and unnerving to address, is easily brushed aside as stress, excitement, wetsuit constriction, water temperature, or any number of things an over-confident athlete would first (or rather) believe.  The idea that it could be indigestion, heat exhaustion, a panic attack, heart attack, or anything representing human frailty is quickly dismissed.  Not wanting to reveal weakness, these athletes ignore or rationalize that feeling, and go stroking along, suffering alone, until they eventually expire.

While more medical and mental health research is conducted, I suspect that in that crowded field of swimmers, over-confident athletes resist messages that come from their own minds and bodies, just like they resist those that come from lifeguards.  They may say, “I appreciate what you guys do” (read, for other people, because I’ll never need you), without any idea that we’re there for THEM, too, and perhaps most especially.

MAHC Recirculation Systems and Filtration

CDC posts the Model Aquatic Health Code’s module for Recirculation Systems and Filtration for public comment with a closing date of October 9, 2013.

To view the latest updates regarding the Model Aquatic Health Code go to

The Recirculation Systems and Filtration module was initially released earlier this summer for public comment but has been re-released to encourage further review and feedback.

Health issues related to waterborne diseases as well as exposure to chemicals associated with pool water are increasingly being documented. The Recirculation Systems and Filtration Module is a first step towards improving water quality at aquatic facilities and reducing associated health effects. The Recirculation Systems and Filtration Module contains design and construction requirements that are, unless otherwise specified, applicable only for new or modified construction. New and improved elements include:

  1. More aggressive turnover times and more uniform standards for recirculation system design and operation.
  2. Filter design and operation standards that will promote more effective and efficient filtration.
  3. Requiring water replenishment to dilute out the dissolved contaminants that cannot be removed by pool filters.
  4. Development of a long-term plan to use pool filters for pathogen removal in addition to water clarity in a multiple barrier system that would complement all disinfection processes.
  5. Use of improved flow meters

MAHC Background:

The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) effort began in February 2005 and the latest round of modules is being published for public comment. The MAHC will have a significant impact on the aquatic industry and we strongly encourage all industry members to take an active role in providing meaningful feedback to develop the best possible result.

The first industry standard was issued in 1958. In the subsequent 50 years, there have been at least 50 different state codes and many independent county codes. What was required in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another. It is clear that this historic approach is not working. Thus, the National Swimming Pool Foundation took a leadership position and provided funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for the creation of the MAHC. The MAHC is intended to transform the patch work of industry codes into a data-driven, knowledge-based, risk reduction effort to prevent disease, injuries and promote healthy water experiences.

NSF and UV – Changes throught the years

NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) was founded in 1944 to standardize sanitation and food safety requirements. Today, it has evolved into an accredited, independent third party certification body that tests and certifies products to verify that they meet public health and safety standards. The NSF is made up of many different divisions covering a wide range of topics, including the Water Division which covers swimming pools and spas.

Third party certification helps both the consumers as well as the manufacturers by reviewing certain processes and establishing standards and guidelines to ensure that a product complies with specific standards for safety, quality and performance. It makes for a level playing field for all parties involved.

In the swimming pool industry specifically, there have been many changes to local codes and national codes and standards over the years. In addition, new products are introduced daily claiming to be the “next best thing” for your pool. The NSF has modified itself to also keep up with these evolving codes and ever changing technologies that come to the market place.  All products should certainly be held to the standards of the NSF at a minimum.  If they pass the approval of NSF, they will proudly display that on their label.

Some of the major milestones that have affected UV systems in the swimming pool industry include:

NSF 2001: This called for disinfection efficacy for Enterococcus faecium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  At the time, it seemed appropriate for pools. But with chlorine based chemicals used as primary sanitizers, certain bugs became more and more chlorine resistant causing the NSF to change their standard.

NSF 2010: This increased the standard to include the inactivation of Cryptosporidium as well as the dose determination that is required to complete this process.  UV is based primarily on a dosing system, similar to that of the medical profession.  There is a certain dose of antibiotics that is needed for certain infections.  Just like a doctor carefully calculates the right medication and dosage to treat an illness, there is a specific science behind the dosing of UV.  A dose of 12 mJ/cm2 is needed to achieve a 3 log reduction of Crypto, but that same dose is ineffective against HIV for example.  So a standard had to be implemented by NSF for the UV systems.

NSF 2012: This standard took the UV a final step to include life testing, operating temperature, cleanability, design pressure, flowmeter, performance indication, operation and installation instructions, drawings and parts lists, disinfection efficacy, as well as valve and component identification.

As you can see by the changes in the NSF guidelines, there will certainly be more to follow in the coming years.  We as aquatics professionals need to be aware of these changes and keep our customers educated to the best of our ability.  The more we can educate our customers, the easier it will be to stay ahead of these changes.