Beyond the Classroom

With all the splendor of the Beijing Olympic Games adding truly positive publicity to the world of swimming, recent negative press regarding recreation water illnesses (RWIs) still plays havoc with the lives of those associated with the aquatic industry.

Cryptosporidium (Crypto) outbreak information is being transmitted via e-mails to pool operators and professional aquatic groups. Partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Swimming Pool Foundation recently established a Cryptosporidium Outbreak Alert System.

The purpose is to increase awareness of RWIs and how the aquatic professional can minimize the spread of Crypto, as well as other water-borne illnesses.

Chemical Feed

Maintaining chemical feed equipment and water chemistry parameters at optimal levels according to state and local government regulations is a continuous process. Poor pH control can compromise the activity of the chlorine sanitization processes. Poor sanitation and low chlorine levels create an atmosphere for contamination and incidents of waterborne illnesses such as e-Coli, Hepatitis A, Giardia and Crypto.

As aquatic facilities age, the chemical feed equipment loses effectiveness if it is not monitored or maintained; the renovation processes must include an updating of the chemical feed equipment. While under renovation, the existing filtration system and heating systems should be analyzed to ensure optimal water clarity and efficient heating levels.

Up To Speed

Renowned CDC expert, Dr. Michael J. Beach, has stressed in numerous articles that the prevention of RWIs requires involvement of the general public; technological, operational and educational improvements; and improved outbreak investigations.

The public can be made aware of the situation through posting of rules and regulations at all public facilities as well as informing it of the potential harm of RWIs. Aligned with this are the available educational opportunities that every aquatic operator should incorporate into the risk management program.

“A risk management program should be focused on the technological and operational methods of improving water quality,” says Dr. Beach.

Closing a facility to the public due to a RWI outbreak brings not only a loss of revenue, but a perception that the facility is not operating in the best interest of its customers. The tremendous labor costs involved in remedying an outbreak includes cleaning all decks, handrails and any other equipment which may have been exposed to the waterborne disease.

It is now advised that a chemical sanitizer--usually chlorine--be raised to 20 ppm and maintained at that level for a minimum of 12.75 hours with pH of 7.5 or less. Recent studies now conclude that, in the presence of a chlorine stabilizer, cyanuric acid, at 50 ppm, the Crypto inactivation cannot be reached even after 24 hours and 40 ppm of free available chlorine. ( cryptoToolkit.html)

This new change must be understood by all aquatic operators. Communication and education programming are critical in sharing these newer studies. The 21st-century aquatic operator must incorporate all available educational resources into the facilities and be alerted to any potential danger to the clientele. Consider the impact on an Olympic swimming competition if no trained aquatic professionals were on duty.


Aquatic professionals now have a respected source for the most current information about pool and spa accident and illness prevention with the Prevention Advisor. This free, monthly e-newsletter is published by the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) as a service to pool and spa operators, service technicians, health officials and other professionals committed to staying attuned to key prevention topics.

NSPF understands that industry professionals attend certification courses every five years, and need the most current information on fast-changing technology and new legislation. The Prevention Advisor allows NSPF to keep pool professionals up-to-date on the latest improvements until they are ready to re-certify. To sign up for a free subscription, go to, or call 719-540-9119.

Connie Gibson Centrella is a professor and Program Director for the online Aquatic Engineering Program at Keiser University eCampus. She was twice-honored with the Evelyn C. Keiser Teaching Excellence Award “Instructor of Distinction.” Centrella is an industry veteran with over 40 years experience in the pool and spa industry. She is a former pool builder with extensive knowledge in pool construction and equipment installation as well as manufacturing.

The articles presented in this series continue to stress the value of continuing education for aquatic operators. The prevention strategies are based on recognition and response, and the elimination of risks can only be accomplished through continual education and reinforcement of basic chemistry parameters.

The CDC now has “Twelve Steps for Prevention of Recreational Water Illnesses” in PDF form, which should be incorporated into every training environment ( or These steps climb the ladder to successful implementation of RWI prevention, beginning with education and ending with an emergency response plan. The aquatic operator now has access to educational formats either through personal training seminars or online training, which must be reviewed and studied continuously in order to protect aquatic facility guests.