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Staff Report: Public Health Engineers Advocacy

February 2011 25-Oct-2011 [773]

• This report states that: "expensive and very complicated engineering designs are required to protect public health,..." What are the effects of industry advocacy - on democratic decision-making and budgets?

Staff Report: Public Health Engineers Advocacy

Here are some excerpts from the report:

"Recreational water is another area where there is a specific need to have a public health engineer to assist with questions and issues - public pools, spas, hot tubs, wading pools, water slides, receiving basins and splash pads (recirculation-style water features splash and spray pads). These types of wet amusement features have been identified as high risk for parasites and have become a major threat to public health as chlorine does not kill off the parasites (e.g.cryptosporidium oocysts,) and there are also bacteria and virus transmission risks. Therefore, expensive and very complicated engineering designs are required to protect public health, as outlined in a previous OPHA position paper and resolution on Splash Pads. The development of water theme parks also require very technically complicated designs using advanced treatment options (i.e. electromechanically controlled, large design flows, micro filtration, ozone, ultra-violet and other forms of treatment) with a goal to recycle and or recirculate the water. Epidemiological evidence is clear that recreational water facilities represent a significant public health risk to bathers, particularly children, if they are not properly designed, operated and maintained. Specifically many municipalities and operators are opting to recycle the water in an effort to conserve water and be more energy efficient but at the same time perhaps putting bathers at risk of a potential health hazard. As a result,these types of facilities are generating public health concerns.

The Public Health community has requested that the MOHLTC amend existing Regulation 565 (Public Pools) to include splash pads, receiving basins and other forms of wet recreation. As this regulation was originally written by public health engineers and other public health experts and due to its technical content, this task should again be supervised by a Senior Public Health Engineer....

"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT OPHA advocate to the MOHLTC and the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion3 (OAHPP) to provide easily accessible technical assistance to local health units by hiring a senior public health engineer(s) with expertise in environmental public health and other applicable public health experts;

AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT OPHA endorse the attached criteria to assist in the discussion with the MOHLTC and OAHPP for providing public health engineers and other applicable public health experts...."