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When city inspectors checked water quality at public pools in recent years, there was at least a one-in-five chance each time that they would find problems serious enough to require the pool to be closed immediately.

The current system is not working properly to protect the public.

City-county health officials propose to improve it by requiring everyone who tests water quality at public pools to be trained, tested and certified by the city.

It’s a good idea.

Properly treating water reduces the likelihood of pool water transmitting skin, eye or gastrointestinal diseases.

One of those bugs is the cryptosporidium parasite, which causes diarrhea. Lincoln was hit by an outbreak in 2001 that involved 133 confirmed cases at a public swimming pool. The parasite also spread into the community, including child-care settings. As many as 2,000 people may have been infected, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

Testing pool water and treating problems correctly is not rocket science. It’s just chemistry.

Every few hours, an employee takes a sample of pool water, adds a chemical that makes the water turn pink, swirls it, adds another chemical to make the water clear, and calculates the chlorine level.

A simple convenient training and licensing process will help ensure that the people doing the testing know what they’re doing. The minor hassle is better than the disruption caused by sudden closures and illnesses caught in improperly treated pools.

The proposed pool-testing certification will cost $20 for a two-year license. The training class will take less than an hour.

The proposal is part of an updating of the city’s pool regulations to bring them in line with changes in state standards. The training and certification, however, would be a city add-on.

The new rules will also cover the spray parks that are becoming increasingly popular. Spray parks that recirculate water will be required to take additional disinfection measures.

Political candidates often rail against government regulation. In some instances industry groups push through laws designed more to limit competition than to benefit the public.

But the best justification for regulation is when the rules protect public health. That’s the case with this proposal that would cover more than 200 public pools in Lincoln. It deserves City Council approval.


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