Shower, Swim Snack
We have new guidelines for hygiene and the eating of food at H2O Xtream.
- Shower and use the toilet before entering the pool.
- Eat food at the end of your swim in our designated food areas.
These changes will reduce the risk of closures and ensure the cleanliness of our facility.
With the slides closed for almost three months, following an incident where 11 young people were unwell after using the slides, we hear from Mike Ryan, Director Community Services about the steps Upper Hutt City Council has taken to ensure the safety of its customers.
Can you talk us through what’s happened since the slides were closed?
We immediately closed the slides and reported the incident to WorkSafe. We were incredibly upset about what happened and have been working tirelessly to determine the cause of the incident, and to rectify it as soon as we could. That process has taken longer than expected but we received sign off from WorkSafe last week and are thrilled we can reopen the slides for our community again, especially now that we’re into school holidays.
Have you determined the cause of the incident?
We can’t attribute the incident to just one thing, it was a combination of factors. Things like the large number of people in the water, the two outside doors were open which impacted the flow of air, not enough ventilation in the tower, and high pH readings.
All of those factors, plus the number of customers using the slides at once, led to an increase of chloramines in the air. Chloramines are created when organic matter, typically from the bodies of pool users, chemically reacts with the chlorine.
What steps has Council taken to reopen the slides?
In addition to our own testing of the water and air quality and water flows, we brought in independent consultants who are experts in aquatic water and ventilation to carry out their own testing. Together we worked through the contributing factors and determined the appropriate remedial actions. We provided this to WorkSafe and have since carried out the remedial work. WorkSafe has been out to see the work that’s been done and has approved the reopening of the slides.
What changes can customers expect to see?
There are two main changes. The first are specific to the slides and include an additional extractor fan in the slide tower, stop/go lights and new rules for the black slide to better manage the number of people using the slides at one time, a reconfigured ventilation system with extra fresh air vents at the top of the slide, and a new alert system installed. We’ve also introduced a new policy for customers, the Shower/Toilet, Swim, Snack campaign, with education especially around toileting to reduce the output of chloramines. Chlorine is used in pools to kill germs, it attacks organic matter that swimmers bring into pools (such as, sweat, cosmetics, and urine) and creates a by-product called chloramines. By reducing the amount of organic matter in the water, we also lower the chloramines.
Can you ensure we won’t see an incident like the one that happened in April?
We’re confident that with the changes we’ve implemented and the changes we’re asking our customers to make in terms of showering and using the toilet before they enter the water, eating after they swim, etc, there is no likelihood we will see an incident like that again. Our team will continue to monitor the air and water quality regularly. We have included additional staff training in that area, as well as in slide management. Operating without slides has had a big impact on the facility and on our community, we’re excited to have them open again and to see the kids enjoying them these school holidays.
Why do I need to shower before I swim?
Every person has organic matter on them from sweating, working, cosmetics etc. Having a shower before swimming will reduce the amount of organic matter entering the water.
Why do I need to go to the toilet before I swim?
If people go to the toilet before they swim it will reduce the accidental release of urine and faecal matter into the pool.
Why have these changes been brought in?
Work Safe informed us we must lower the release of chloramines into the water at H2O Xtream. Chlorine is used in pools to kill germs, it attacks organic matter that swimmers bring into pools (for example, sweat, cosmetics and urine) and creates a by-product called chloramines. By reducing the amount of organic matter in the water we lower chloramines.
How long should I wait to swim after eating?
Why do I have to eat at the end of my visit?
Eating during a swim increases the risk of faecal and vomit incidents (i.e. weekend parties). People need to allow at least 30 minutes after eating before they swim. People eating greasy food will obviously get contaminants on the hands and face and it will wash off in the water.
What if I have booked a party?
If a party has been booked food is still only permitted in designated areas and eating needs to be at the end of your session.