Prompted by a 2018 deadly Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak, New Hampshire has announced that it is passing a set of reforms to ensure that the state has a better system for tracking and inspecting public pools.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Service Public Pools and Spas Program will be implementing a new set of requirements for public pools and spas.
The new rules will require a fee-based annual compliance selfcertification for each pool and spa every year. The self-certification must include documentation of waterquality testing, presence of critical safety equipment, and operational and maintenance records. The fee structure will be $250 per pool or spa (regardless of size) up to a maximum of $1,500 annually for any facility greater than 6 or more “pools.” This is a new requirement.
Also effective beginning 2022, the revised program will require that each facility be operated under the supervision of an individual who holds a current certification from an approved training program dedicated specifically to the operation of public bathing facilities. The approved training programs provided by Association of Pool and Spa Professionals and National Swimming Pool Foundation are available through the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance.
Finally, a one-time lifetime registration form is required to be submitted that includes contact information, physical specifications, safety measures, and operational details for each pool or spa. There is no fee associated with the registration. A follow-up registration is required if changes to registered information are made.
These changes were prompted by a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in 2018 that was linked to a hot tub at the Sands Hotel in Hampton and left 34 individuals sick and killed two people.
According to Ted Diers, a New Hampshire state employee who oversees public pool safety, the hot tub in question wasn’t listed in the state’s database of more than 1,300 public pools and spas.
Following the outbreak, a 2019 inspection of the hot tub identified significant concerns with the design, construction, equipment, operation, and maintenance of the hot tub, which did not meet basic DES requirements and was not permitted by DES.
The New Hampshire pool and spa regulation changes are an attempt to better monitor those aquatic venues that have somehow escaped their jurisdiction.
Along with ensuring public health, DES says its new pool regulations have significant economic repercussions. Negative publicity following outbreaks or injuries at a hotel or waterpark can have consequences for tourism.
“We want our tourist industry to thrive,” said Tim Wilson, the state’s lone public pool inspector. “I’ve always looked at businesses as being my clients. It is my job to help them succeed.”
Diers and Wilson both say that most public pools have good, safe water.
The new rules are intended to make the questionable pools and spas do a little bit better.