Evaluation of water quality guidelines for public swimming ponds.


National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]


Swimming ponds are artificial ecosystems for bathing in which people imitate the conditions of natural waters. Swimming in natural water may pose health risks if the water quality is microbiologically poor. Swimming ponds are small water bodies that may be used by relatively large groups of people, moreover, the water is not disinfected, e.g. by using chlorine. The draft new swimming pool legislation in the Netherlands includes water quality requirements for swimming ponds. This study focused on the examination and evaluation of the new microbiological water quality requirements, including Escherichia coli, intestinal enterococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, in thirteen public swimming pools. In eight of thirteen swimming ponds the water quality met the requirements for fecal indicators; 93-95% of the samples met the requirement for E. coli (≤100/100 ml) and intestinal enterococci (≤50/100 ml). The requirement for P. aeruginosa (≤10/100 ml) was met in eleven of thirteen swimming ponds (99% of the samples). In 68% of the samples the requirement for S. aureus (<1/100 ml) was met. A linear mixed effect analysis showed that E. coli and intestinal enterococci concentrations were significantly dependent on the log10 of turbidity. P. aeruginosa concentrations were significantly dependent on water temperature. 31-45% of the variation between swimming ponds was explained by considering 'pond' as a random effect in the analysis. The monitoring of microbiological parameters in swimming pond water needs selective analytical methods, such as those used in this study, due to large numbers of background bacteria. The draft new Dutch swimming pool legislation provides proper guidance to ensure the microbiological safety of swimming pond water; it would benefit from inclusion of turbidity as an extra parameter. S. aureus is a relevant parameter for non-fecal shedding, although scientific literature does not provide evidence for a norm value based on a dose-response relation for exposure to S. aureus in water.


Guidelines,Legislation,Microbiology,Swimming pond,Water quality,

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