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The public urged not to foul swimming pool water

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has appealed to swimmers not to defecate, urinate or vomit in public swimming pools and to keep the pools clean.

An LCSD spokesman said today (July 22) that swimming pools were public facilities and usage rates were heavy on weekends and public holidays. "Swimmers should strictly observe the rules so they can all enjoy a clean swimming environment," the spokesman said.

"Once contaminated by faeces or vomitus, the swimming pool has to be closed for cleaning and disinfection according to established procedures, and ultimately the general public are the ones to suffer."

The Public Swimming Pools Regulation of Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) stipulates 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.

The LCSD has also stepped up its publicity and education efforts via radio announcements and at swimming pool complexes to urge people to follow the rules before swimming and not urinate, defecate or vomit in pool water.

Swimming Pool Ambassadors will be deployed at main entrances, changing rooms and the deck area of every swimming pool to promote the message of personal and public hygiene and explain to swimmers the rules of using swimming pools.

"One should not eat too much to avoid vomiting in water. Elderly and children should visit the toilets first before swimming.

"Parents and guardians should pay attention to the physical condition and needs of their children, and educate them not to urinate or defecate in pool water", the spokesman said.

He added that conspicuous notices had been displayed at all swimming pool complexes, giving directions to the toilets.

"People should avoid swimming and consult a doctor immediately if they feel unwell or have red-eye symptoms, skin infections, fever, flu, vomiting or diarrhoea.

"Before entering the pool deck, they should also take a shower to thoroughly clean their bodies, and walk through the shower bath and footbath before swimming."

Surprise checks will be conducted at swimming pools and immediate enforcement action will be taken against anyone intentionally fouling pool water.

As at July 21, there have been 29 and 23 cases of pool water being fouled by faeces and vomitus respectively recorded at the 36 LCSD pools since the launch of swimming season in April.

All cases have been dealt with quickly in accordance with established guidelines. When reports have been received, staff have immediately evacuated and temporarily closed the affected pool to remove the contaminants.

The residual chlorine level of pool water was then raised to at least 2ppm for an hour or more to disinfect the pool.

"Pool staff have also kept other swimmers well-informed of the incidents and follow-up measures by the department via the public announcements and display of notices at the affected pool complex", the spokesman added.

He urged swimmers who spotted any suspected faeces or who had evidence of pool water being polluted to notify the pool staff immediately and provide detailed information for the department to take prompt action.

To further upgrade the hygienic conditions of the pools, weekly cleaning operations have been launched at the 36 LCSD pools on a rotation basis since last September.

Frequency of sampling pool water has also been increased. As well as hourly on-site checking by pool staff, water samples will also be dispatched to accredited laboratories for examination every week to ensure water quality complies with hygienic standards.

"The provision of a clean and hygienic swimming pool hinges on the co-operation and civic-mindedness of the public," the spokesman said.

Ends/Friday, July 22, 2005
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