Public health concerns about contaminated water and diarrhoea outbreaks at water splash parks.
The Baird government plans to change the Public Health Act to make clear new splash parks and interactive water fountains are included in the definition of a public swimming pool.
SMH reports a number of councils have worked with NSW Health to meet the swimming pool standard in time for summer, one of the most popular water splash parks at Darling Harbour, run by the state government agency Property NSW, insists it doesn’t need to.
Property NSW has also refused to answer questions on whether three new interactive water fountains that will open to the public at Darling Harbour in the next fortnight also meet the swimming pool safety standard.
In March, five-year-old WA girl, Chelsea Fawcett, developed an eye infection that left her partially blind after playing in a water park at Elizabeth Quay.
The Elizabeth Quay water park had closed twice in February after bacteria was detected in pipes amid hot weather. Law firm Slater and Gordon, which is representing the Fawcett family, said this week its “investigations are continuing” as the family considers whether it will sue the West Australian government.
NSW Health’s recommendation to include water parks as swimming pools will be included in draft legislation in 2017, says Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty, NSW Health director of health protection, said: “This recommendation was made because water splash parks and interactive fountains have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Anecdotal local reports about these venues, as well as published international reports of diarrhoeal outbreaks, indicate splash park water can be contaminated by users or animals. Concerns about Elizabeth Quay were not the specific prompt.”
NSW Health found water in splash parks can “rinse contaminants” from children, including faecal material and bacteria, into the water holding tank, which can then be sprayed from the tank onto other users and potentially swallowed.
Dr McAnulty said treatment of the water can “help reduce the health risk” associated with splash parks.
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