Public Swimming Pools, Bathing Beaches, and Recreational Aquatic Spray Grounds

Children, adults and families enjoy swimming and playing in recreational waters, especially during the hot summer months.  Tens of thousands of residents and visitors of Rockland patron our public pools, spas, bathing beaches, and recreational spray grounds every year.  The popularity of aquatic activities are growing and we currently have approximately 140 regulated facilities with 230 operations in our county.  Improper design, operation and/or supervision of bathing facilities can create hazards that endanger public health and safety.

Swimming_Pool_01.jpgThe Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that "Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States." The CDC lists lack of supervisions and lack of barriers as some of the main factors that affect drowning risk. Many of our public pools, including those at day camps, are enjoyed by children and it is imperative that these facilities provide a safe environment for what can potentially be a dangerous activity. In addition to safety concerns, improper operation can lead to disease outbreaks and recreational water illnesses (RWIs).  RWIs can be caused from germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in bathing facilities.  RWIs can also be caused by chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems (for more information on RWIs visit the CDC website).  Proper operation, treatment, and facility design can reduce RWI risks.

The dedicated staff that implement our program are responsible for regulating the public bathing facilities to protect patrons for injury, illness, and death.  The primary program activities include routine comprehensive facility inspections; periodic facility safety plan review and approval; drowning incident investigation; coordination of formal enforcement action; permitting operation at facilities and closing facilities when public health hazards exist; review and approval of engineering design and installation for new systems; complaint response and investigation; and providing technical guidance to owners, operators, lifeguards, contractors and consultants. 
Swimming_Pool_02.jpgThese efforts ensure that our bathing facilities are being operated, supervised, designed, and installed in accordance with the regulations that are in place to protect health and safety.  Our staff immediately close any operation that violates code requirements that present a public health hazard.  Our goal is to have zero drowning incidents, near drowning incidents, and recreational water disease outbreaks in Rockland.  Should these incidents occur, our staff is trained to investigate, in coordination with the New York State Department of Heath (NYSDOH), to identify and respond to the causes and provide a safe bather environment.

The minimum standards for the regulated swimming pools, bathing beaches and recreational aquatic spray ground are set by the NYSDOH.  These regulations are implemented and enforced locally by the Rockland County Department of Health.  According to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation, from Memorial Day through Labor Day in 2013, at least 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the United States.  Of those, 143 of the victims were children under the age of 5.  These tragic statistics emphasize how important this program is and compel us to do everything we can to prevent injury and illness related to bathing facilities in Rockland County.

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