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LCSD strives to enhance public swimming pool management

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has implemented a series of measures to upgrade the management and environmental hygiene standards of public swimming pools.

A spokesman for the LCSD said today (December 16) that the department would strive to implement the recommendations suggested in the Ombudsman's investigation report on the bloodworm incident in public swimming pools.

"We are pleased to note that the Ombudsman has concluded that there was no evidence of any cover-up, or of any deliberate attempt to destroy evidence in the bloodworm incident," he said.

"We accept the comments on the department made by the Ombudsman and shall make improvements as far as possible," he added.

The LCSD has taken on board the following measures to strengthen public swimming pool management:

- The LCSD and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) have carried out comprehensive joint inspections of all public swimming pools and their peripheral areas. Guidelines formulated to strengthen day-to-day cleaning and inspection work to prevent possible breeding grounds for insects are being implemented.

- Since September 8, the LCSD has launched a weekly thorough clean-up programme in every public swimming pool. Each pool complex will take turns to close for half a day every week for cleaning work.

- The department has increased the frequency of bacteriological tests on pool water samples from once a month to once a week. Also, tests on free residual chlorine levels, pH values and turbidity have been raised from twice a year to once a week.

- The department has introduced a series of training and refresher courses for swimming pool frontline staff to enrich their knowledge in environmental hygiene, water sampling techniques and operation of filtration systems.

- The LCSD and the Architecture Services Department thoroughly inspect the water play equipment installed in swimming pools. If required, improvement work to the design of the equipment will be made to facilitate cleaning.

- The department will encourage pool users to help keep public swimming pools clean buy stepping up publicity and public education work.

In November, the LCSD set up an inter-departmental steering committee on the management of public swimming pools. Under the committee, four working groups will dedicate their efforts to the following areas: water quality monitoring; environmental hygiene and cleanliness; usage of public swimming pools; and staff training and venue management.

The committee has the participation of the FEHD, Department of Health, Water Supplies Department, Architecture Services Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and Home Affairs Department. Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, Head of the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, and Mr Victor Cheung Chi-kong, Council Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, have been invited to serve as advisers.

Also, the LCSD has established regular exchanges for the headquarters management and the frontline staff to discuss common issues on pool management matters and daily operation work and to explore necessary improvement measures.

"We have organised a series of workshops on communication strategies for the senior managerial staff to improve their skills in handling media relations and crisis situations," the spokesman added.

"We would like to express our gratitude to the government departments concerned and the expert advisers in rendering assistance, and to our colleagues, frontline pool staff in particular, for their hard work and staunch support in handling the bloodworm incident," he said.

The LCSD apologised to the public for the inconvenience caused by the bloodworm incident.

"We pledge to continue our efforts in enhancing the management of public swimming pools and in offering quality services to the public," the spokesman said.

Ends/Thursday, December 16, 2004
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