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New law protects swimmers

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 1:15 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 1:40 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – To help protect your health and safety in public swimming pools and at water parks, on Jan. 1, Illinois enacted new legislation that calls for swimming facility engineers, architects and contractors to be prequalified by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

There will also be a new fee structure for swimming facilities to ensure inspectors can respond to complaints and inspect public swimming facilities more frequently and in a timely manor. Swimming facility fees in Illinois have not increased in almost 40 years.

“The goal of the Illinois Department of Public Health is to protect the health and safety of the public from disease and injury,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “A new swimming facility fee structure will allow the department to conduct more inspections and respond faster when there is a complaint, an injury or outbreak of illness. Inspections help protect the public’s swimming safety, but will also allow swimming facilities to open quicker if they have to shut down due to equipment malfunctions, chemical imbalances or disease causing organisms found in the water. This benefits not only the public, but businesses as well.”

Schools and municipal pools will only pay a fee for building aquatic features (water slides, spray pools, play structures and other similar features).

Certain tax-exempt organizations like the YMCA or United Way, will pay lower fees than other commercial swimming facilities.

By requiring engineers, architects and contractors to be prequalified and trained, the department anticipates seeing better quality plans to build or alter a swimming facility submitted, which will allow the department to approve permits more quickly. Better quality plans reduces the possibility of having to resubmit plans due to errors or non-compliance with the Swimming Facilities Code. Prequalified engineers, architects and contractors will also help people planning to build a pool make better and more cost-effective choices.

IDPH licenses and inspects more than 4,000 swimming facilities annually. For more information log onto http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/swimmingpools.htm.

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