The summer pool season is nearly here, and with the re-opening of community pools and water parks closed previously due to COVID restrictions, it’s also a perfect opportunity to review tips, best practices, and resources for ensuring the water we use for fun — and the water we drink — is safe and healthy for citizens.
Whether most residents know it or not, health departments are regularly inspecting public swimming pools and pool construction ahead of the busy season for areas such as chemical levels and safe chemical storage, and building departments also do their part in reviewing plans for new public pools, ensuring the right safeguards are in place to prevent injury or harm.
The month of May is “Building Safety Month,” a campaign run by the International Code Council (ICC) each year to highlight the importance of following the latest rules and regulations for building and public safety. This week, the third week in the campaign, highlights a few key areas centered around water, including safe drinking water, and safety tips for public swimming pools and spas.
On their website, the ICC offers a whole host of resources on water conservation and efficiency and building, plumbing, and green codes. They even have a link to this week’s podcast with the Code Council’s Sr. Director of PMG Resources, Lee Clifton, and backflow prevention specialist, Bruce Rathburn, who discuss plumbing and cross-connection control programs – something Ventura County, CA, an Accela user, has tackled for its Environmental Health department’s cross-connection program. They are leveraging our software to streamline their test reporting operations, and allowing testers to self-report results in an online portal.
The Accela Civic Solution for Environmental Health — which supports water safety regulation — modernizes the application submission, plan review, inspection, and permit issuance process. It digitizes and automates work-flow functions for employees, facility owners and mobile workers. This helps to eliminate paper in the permitting process and allows health departments to focus on what matters most: protecting public health.
This year, the ICC also chose to highlight the importance of pool safety. On the website for the ICC campaign, the group calls out the sad fact that drowning is a leading cause of death for children under the age of five, and offers some suggestions on how this can be avoided, including fencing, alarmed gates, and active adult supervision of children in pool and spa areas.
Not only can structural aspects impact pool safety, but health departments in conjunction with building departments impact health issues associated with water quality. From 2000 – 2014, there were 493 disease outbreaks associated with treated recreational water that caused at least 27,219 cases of reported health issues and eight deaths. Numbers such as these highlight the importance of developing a strong health inspection and regulatory program, and encourage health departments to have more public outreach campaigns about what to look out for with water quality, and when to stay home from the pool to avoid the spread of illness.
The ICC Building Safety Month campaign continues through the rest of the month, highlighting areas such as how homeowners can work with contractors towards the shared goal of safety, and public safety innovation.
Find out more about how Accela customers have leveraged the Accela Civic Platform to improve their building and environmental health inspection and permitting programs here.