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New guidelines on effective handling of pool contamination

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) today (June 17) implemented new guidelines on handling complaints about suspected contamination of public swimming pools by faeces.

The new guidelines will enable swimming pool staff to deal with reported cases more effectively while swimmers using the pool will get the related updated information.

An LCSD spokesman said that in accordance with the new guidelines, the swimmers will be told about follow-up action upon receipt of complaints about the discovery of suspected faeces. The pool management will also enhance communication with the staff on site in the investigation process.

"This arrangement will not only increase the transparency of the handling of cases, but also boost the swimmers' confidence in how the LCSD deals with public complaints. This will help to avoid any misunderstanding."

The spokesman appealed to swimmers to notify venue staff promptly if they discovered any suspected faeces in a swimming pool.

The spokesman noted that information provided by the swimmers would be instrumental in deciding on follow-up action.

"After reporting to the supervisor, the venue staff will ask the swimmer for the exact location of where the faeces was spotted and will then proceed to the scene for immediate, thorough inspection," he said.

"The supervisor attending the scene will use a loudhailer to inform other swimmers in the affected pool about the complaint received. The swimmers will also be asked as to whether they have seen any suspected faeces.

"If it is confirmed that there is faeces in the pool, the venue staff will follow the existing guidelines to handle contamination of public swimming pool water by faeces and direct all swimmers in the affected pool to other unaffected pool facilities.

"The swimming pool concerned will then be closed temporarily, while the venue staff remove the faeces, using appropriate tools.

"Water samples will be collected for testing. The residual chlorine level will be raised to at least 2ppm for an hour or more to help disinfect the pool.

"Meanwhile, the filtration and sterilisation system will complete a cycle so as to thoroughly disinfect and filter all the water in the pool. After that, the pool can be reopened."

The spokesman noted that if a case was found to be non-substantiated, but some swimmers nearby reported that they had spotted faeces in the pool, the venue staff would still have to follow the above procedures.

But if no evidence was found and no other swimmers could give further information to confirm the case, the pool in question would remain open.

Via the public announcement system, the management staff of the swimming pool will inform all swimmers within the swimming pool complex the outcome of the investigation upon its completion. The venue staff will have to record the case properly.

The spokesman appealed to swimmers to follow the rules of keeping public swimming pools hygienic. "Public swimming pools are our facilities and it is of utmost importance that all users keep them clean," he said.

The spokesman added that the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) Public Swimming Pools Regulations stipulate that it is an offence to pollute the water in public swimming pools. An offender will be liable to a maximum penalty of $2,000 and 14 days' imprisonment.

Ends/Friday, June 17, 2005
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