Aquatic Specific Standards

Standards New Zealand has published a Standard for Pool Water Quality NZS 5826:2010.

NZS 5826 addresses the essential aspects of the operation and maintenance of pools with a focus on pool water quality criteria including methods of water treatment to ensure the risk to public health is minimised. The standard doesn’t cover the maintenance of heating, mechanical, or electrical equipment used by pools. The design of swimming pools is covered by NZS 4441 (see below).

The Standard covers all treated public and private freshwater and seawater swimming pools, spa pools, and geothermal pools, during use.

Compliance with NZS 5826 is a PoolSafe requirement (NZS 5826 is cited in the Public Health Bill 2007).

Swimming Pool Design Standard

Standards New Zealand has published a Standard for Swimming Pool Design NZS 4441:2008.

NZS 4441 covers the essentials of design and construction of public, institutional, and private freshwater and seawater swimming pools, and the provision of water treatment facilities. This applies to new pools and the upgrading of existing facilities. The standard doesn’t cover ancillary works such as spectator accommodation and enclosing structures except in so far as these are likely to affect the design and the construction of the pools themselves. It doesn’t cover the provision of heating or other special equipment, operation and maintenance, nor the supervision necessary to ensure the physical safety of pool users.

Complying pools will meet minimum standards for health and safety.

You can order NZS5826:2010 and NZS 4441:2008 by calling Standards NZ on 0800 782 632 during business hours.

Cryptosporidium Protocol For Swimming Pools

When a Cryptosporidium outbreak occurs in the community or cases are associated with a pool, the local Public Health Service will notify Aquatic Facility Managers of an outbreak.

During an outbreak you may be asked by the Public Health Service to test your water. If you are not in an outbreak area - do not test your pool for Cryptosporidium unless you are advised to by your Public Health Service.

If your test is positive, the Ministry of Health criteria for closing and re-opening Aquatic Facilities, needs to be followed in consultation with Public Health Service and Environmental Health Officers.

If your pool is tested negative you may remain open, unless advised otherwise.

During an outbreak you should actively promote the key messages recommended by the Ministry of Health to your patrons.

Pool re-opening will be recommended in consultation with Aquatic Facility Managers, Public Health Service and Environmental Health Officers. If there is still an active outbreak in the area, you may wish to reduce your risk of reinfection and avoid spreading infection to other pools by:

  • Limiting access to ‘at-risk' groups, predominantly those under 8 years
  • Limited opening options, only programmed session, no public recreational access
  • Postponing any events, such as regional or national events
  • Opening only when fully when recommended by the Public Health Service.

Criteria for Closing & Re-opening Pools

The following criteria have been established by the Ministry of Health, and will be administered by the Public Health Service and Environmental Health Officers.

Closing a pool:

A pool may be recommended for closure by the Public Health Service if:

A. There is an outbreak in the area, and:
  • the pool tests positive, or
  • the pool is linked to the outbreak, or
  • nearby pools test positive or are linked to the outbreak (this is in order to avoid the spread of infection)

Note: Other factors such as the adequacy of treatment and filtration systems will be taken into account.

B. A positive test result is obtained, but there is no outbreak.

A low positive test result is less than 10 oocysts per 100 litres, a high result is greater than 10 oocysts per 100 litres.

Any decision for closure will be in consultation with Aquatic Facility Management, Environmental Health Officers and the Public Health Service, and must be considered on a case-by case basis.

Criteria for re-opening a pool:

  • Pool decontaminated according to accepted methods and one clear test when the original positive test was less than 10 oocysts /100 litres.
  • Pool decontaminated according to accepted methods and two clear tests are taken at least 24 hours apart when the original positive test was 10 oocysts or more/100 litres and/or cases were associated with the pool.
  • Public Health Service recommendations are being followed regarding behaviour and personal hygiene while there is an outbreak in the community.

Treatment Procedures Associated with the Removal of Cryptosporidium:

Decontamination procedures should be prepared and included in your pool operations manual, before you need to use them.

If your pool is tested positive for Cryptosporidium inform the Public Health Service and close pool Filtration and/or dumping water are the only practical ways to remove oocysts.

Decontamination procedure will depend on the number of oocysts per 100 litres and the type of filtration system. The longer the period of filtration, the greater the chances of removing the oocysts and getting a negative retest result. Filters should be effective to a level of 1 micron (i.e., DE filters). Filters which can’t achieve this level will not reliably remove Cryptosporidium (i.e., sand filters on their own).

Backwashing a sand filter or cleaning a DE filter close to the time of a retest is likely to increase the chances of a positive retest result.

A low test result (less than 10 oocysts per 100 litres) procedure

Implement decontamination procedure.

Increase chlorine to 20 mg/L for 20 hours. This will destroy other pathogens in the water (eg, Giardia), and may assist in getting a negative retest result for Cryptosporidium.

For DE filters, allow a minimum of 3 pool turn-overs, and then dump DE, clean tank and replace DE. For sand filters, dump all pool water and backwash filters until clean with fresh non-contaminated water to remove oocysts from filter. Backwash may involve up to 25 times the normal cycle.

Inform Public Health Service of results. If a negative retest, then reopen unless requested otherwise. If a positive retest then go to high level response.

A high test result (greater than 10 oocysts per 100 litres) procedure:

Implement decontamination procedure in consultation with your Public Health Service. See procedure for less than 10 oocysts.

Retest twice, 24 hours apart.

Inform Public Health Service of results. If both retests are negative then reopen unless requested otherwise. If either retest is positive then keep pool closed and recommence appropriate procedure.

Note: Aquatic Facility Managers should supervise the retesting arrangements.

At this time if you are not in an outbreak area, do not test your pool for Cryptosporidium unless you are advised by your Public Health Service. If a pool is identified as a common risk factor, you may be asked by the Public Health Service to test your water. Determine who pays for, and who is accredited to conduct the test.

An outbreak is defined as more cases than is normally expected for that region. Remember, Cryptosporidium has been in New Zealand for a number of years, it is not a new communicable disease, but it has only recently been listed as a notifiable disease (these are diseases which medical practitioners are required to notify to the Public Health Service).

The Ministry of Health has advised that they currently recognise the following laboratories for testing Cryptosporidium.

Massey University
(Institute of Molecular Biosciences)
Jim Learmonth
Tel 06) 350 4016
Fax (06) 350 5637

Environmental Science and Research Ltd
(ESR - Communicable Disease Centre)
Els Maas or Tania Wiltshire
Tel (04) 237 0149 (04) 237 0149
Fax (04) 237 2370

WaterCare
Lynette Ronerg
Tel (09) 275 5119 (09) 275 5119
Fax (09) 275 1550

Wellington Regional Council
Helen Sillars
Tel (04) 567 7561 (04) 567 7561
Fax (04) 567 9796

Samples are often taken by a separate organisation therefore care should be taken to ensure the Aquatic Facility Manager and laboratory are satisfied that correct sampling procedure is followed.

Aquatic Facility Managers are advised that the internationally recognised test for Cryptosporidium is APHA 9711B. The sampling procedure should be provided by the laboratory carrying out the test. It is accepted that 380 litres (100 US gallons) is the standard minimum quantity to be collected at a preferable flow rate of 4 litres per minute.

It is important that pool managers ensure sampling equipment is cleaned thoroughly before each test, as specified by the accredited laboratory and or according to APHA 9711B test method.

Key Personal Hygiene Messages

These messages should be promoted at all times. During an outbreak they should be particularly emphasised and there may be additional advice (e.g., immunocompromised people avoiding swimming).

  • Don't go swimming if you have had diarrhoea within the last two weeks.
  • Don't allow your children to go swimming if they have had diarrhoea within the last two weeks.
  • Encourage personal hygiene at all times, namely washing hands after going to the toilet, after changing a nappy, before handling food, before entering the pool.
  • Ensure children swim in tight fitting togs, not nappies.
  • Make customers aware that they need to report any faecal accidents immediately.
  • Encourage customers to shower, using soap around the anal area, before entering the pool. Ensure parents and caregivers take responsibility for children.

Public Awareness

Appropriate and accurate public awareness is necessary with respect to the Cryptosporidium issue, or for that matter any public health issue which affects pools.

Please note: a negative result does not indicate your pool is "crypto clear". Do not place public notices indicating this as it is both misleading to the customers and inaccurate. A negative result is not 100% conclusive and only represents a single point in time.

If there is an outbreak in the community which is not related to a pool (e.g., a crèche) and you are notified by the Public Health Service, you may wish to notify your customers of this. It is recommended you use the Key Personal Hygiene Messages.

If you choose to restrict access by the ‘at-risk' group, please clearly inform customers that there is an outbreak in the community and to avoid the spread of the disease the pool has taken a pro-active stance to close the children's pool to protect everyone's health. Contact schools, crèches etc. in your area and explain the closure.

Cryptosporidium is a disease which is brought into the pool by the community. Your role as an Aquatic Facility Manager, in an outbreak, is to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. This will be done in consultation with the Public Health Service and the Environmental Health Officer.

Some groups in the community need to be very careful to ensure that they do not become infected (e.g., people who are HIV positive, people on medications which affect their immune systems). If there is concern about Cryptosporidium in an area or in a pool these people should seek medical advice before swimming.

Lifeguard Assessor Moderation Forums

Pool lifeguard assessors must attend moderation events to ensure their skills are up to date and assessment is consistent.

Yearly moderation events are run by NZRA in conjunction with Skills Active. These events provide consistency in assessment, and are usually compulsory for assessors.

For information on this year's requirements, forum dates and locations visit the Skills Active Lifeguard Assessors Moderation page.

Pool Alone Policy

The Pool Alone Policy was developed in 1997 (revised in 2002) to provide a code of practice and policy on child safety to provide national consistency within facilities. The policy states:

Children under 8 must be actively supervised by a caregiver 16 or over (actively supervised means watching your child at all time; Able to provide immediate assistance).

For resources, including signage, posters & brochures, relating to Pool Alone visit www.watersafety.org.nz/education/resource-orders/

Pool Alone Case Studies:

As a result of the Pool Alone survey showing that some facility managers would like to have additional criteria added to the existing national policy, Case Studies have been put together to show what is working at other facilities around New Zealand:

North Shore Leisure Glenfield

Jellie Park Case Study

H2O Xtream Case Study

Manurewa Aquatic Centre Case Study

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