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The AOAP supports the evaluation and adoption of all or part of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC)

Position Statement

 December 10, 2019

Bringing together professionals from all aspects of aquatics to educate, advocate, enrich, network and improve the aquatics industry across the United States and internationally,” the Association of Aquatic Professionals Board of Directors hereby ratifies this position statement based on the rationale described herein.

The Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP) Position:

The AOAP supports the evaluation and adoption of all or part of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) by State, territory, and local health departments; aquatic facilities; and the industry at large with the objective of protecting the future of aquatic facilities and their staff and patrons. In the event the MAHC does not contain suitable or applicable language, jurisdictional authorities and stakeholders are encouraged to submit requested changes, with supporting documentation, to the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC) (www.cmahc.org) for technical review and potential incorporation during subsequent biennial updates. Implementation of the MAHC due process ensures protection of the public, more efficient facility operations, and maintenance of consistent guidelines pertaining to suppliers and manufacturers.

The Rationale:

1.  During 2000–2014, public health officials from 46 U.S. states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water, resulting in at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths (i)

2.  Annually in the U.S., approximately 200,000 individuals seek emergency care for injuries associated with swimming pools, and nearly 700 experience fatal drowning (ii)

3.  The U.S. documents more than 85 environmental health codes relative to the design, construction, and operation of public swimming pools (iii)

4.  CDC surveillance compiled pool and spa inspection data from five states, representing 15.7% of all U.S. public pools, revealing that 12.3% of routine inspections resulted in immediate closure because of at least one violation representing a serious public health threat (iv)

Numerous jurisdictional environmental health departments and corresponding stakeholders engage annually to maintain and update local codes to impact these statistics. Conducted independent of one another, local code updates do not typically engage a national audience to benefit from the latest scientific evidence, best practices, leading experts, and consensus. As a result, no two swimming pool and spa environmental health codes are the same, and, worse, recreational water illness and drowning rates remain tragically high.

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.

The apparent limitations of current pool and spa code processes prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) development of a national public health and aquatics sector consortium. The output of this effort was creation of the MAHC, an up-to-date, consensus- and science-based model code protecting public health and supporting facilities, suppliers, and jurisdictional authorities. The MAHC is all-inclusive, addressing facility design, construction, and operation. In addition, the MAHC Annex documents the rationale for specific MAHC language. The CMAHC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit formed to administer MAHC updates by:

1.  Processing MAHC change requests and advising the CDC on acceptance considerations

2.  Advocating for improved health and safety conditions at aquatic facilities

3.  Assisting health departments, boards of health, legislatures, the aquatics industry, and other partners, with usage, benefits, interpretation, and implementation of the MAHC

4.  Soliciting, coordinating, and prioritizing MAHC-related research

About AOAP:

The Association of Aquatic Professionals is a domestic 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation and is run by an all-volunteer Board of Directors and a full-time Executive Director/CEO that exclusively promotes and advocates policies, practices and procedures that contribute to safer and improved aquatic education, aquatic recreation activities, programs, and facilities; provides and supports quality aquatic education opportunities; coordinates and conducts research in the field of aquatic management and safety; promotes coordination and cooperation between established aquatic associations responsible for all aspects of aquatic programming, aquatic management, aquatic operation and maintenance and aquatic facility design. As well as providing an annual conference and educational workshops for communities on drowning prevention and education. A portion of all proceeds will be used towards drowning prevention, i.e. for Learn to Swim Program Lessons and Grants for Life Jackets.

Additional goals of the Association of Aquatic Professionals shall include but is not limited to, the following:

  • To unite in one organization all professional aquatic personnel.
  • To establish and promote professional standards and ethics.
  • To encourage professional development of all aquatic personnel by creating specific educational curriculum for all levels of aquatic activities.
  • To promote the public visibility of aquatic activities and facilities nationwide.
  • To advocate the interest of aquatic personnel as a group where their professional interests are involved.
  • To encourage and conduct studies and research on matters of professional and public interest.
  • To promote interrelationships and networking between aquatic personnel.
  • To enhance and improve the health, well-being and leisure time needs of participants in aquatic related programs.
  • To encourage the advancement of sound administrative practice in aquatics.
  • To work with colleges, universities, professional schools and professional groups in the development of curricula designed to prepare students for the field of aquatics.
  • To work or consult with committees, agencies and governments in establishing service, programs and facilities for aquatic-related leisure time activities with whom these organizations may be involved.
  • To act as a resource to those companies who provide products and services relating to design, construction, operation, and renovation of aquatic facilities.

Respectfully,
Christopher Whipple, Board President, Association of Aquatic Professionals

Juliene Hefter, Executive Director/CEO, Association of Aquatic Professionals

i Hlavsa, M. C. et al. 2018, Outbreaks Associated with Treated Recreational Water – U.S. 2000-2014; MMWR, May 17, 2018 ii CPSC. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Washington, DC. Available at https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/NEISSQuery/. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at  http://wonder.cdc.gov iii See  https://www.nspf.org/content/aquatic-codes for links to the spectrum of health codes. iv Hlavsa, M.C. et al, 2016, Immediate Closures and Violations Identified During Routine Inspections of Public Aquatic Facilities – Network for Aquatic Facility Surveillance, Five States, 2013. MMWR, 65(5), May 20, 2016

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Juliene Hefter

Juliene is the Executive Director/CEO of AOAP. She has a background in running and operating diverse aquatic facilities and venues and is a national and international speaker on a variety of topics. She is also an expert witness/consultant.

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