Model Aquatic Health Code

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death in the United States and thousands are harmed every year as a result of water injuries. In order to prevent drowning, injuries, and infections at public pools and spas, the Model Aquatic Health Code was formulated. The Model Aquatic Health Code, or MAHC, was created through the joint effort of the CDC, public health officials, academic experts, and aquatics industry representatives.

Model Aquatic Health Code Use

The Model Aquatic Health Code can be used by state and local organizations as a guide for codes, regulations, and standards regarding water safety at public recreational facilities. The use of MAHC is voluntary. The first complete version of the MAHC was released in summer 2014. The MAHC is expected to be continually updated and revised to reflect the latest scientific advances and best practices.

MAHC Purpose

Code requirements for public water safety vary widely between states and jurisdictions. The MAHC was designed as a standardized guideline that could be used to implement best practices in aquatic facilities across the United States. The expectation is that by making a consistent public health threat reduction effort program available, incidences of disease and injury as a result of recreational water experiences in the U.S. will decrease dramatically.

MAHC Content

The MAHC is broken down into modules with specific topics. Each module details best practices for aspects of recreational water facility maintenance, design, operation, and regulation to mitigate hazards. Best practices are based on scientific evidence and research. Modules were developed by technical committees with expertise in the specific area and reviewed by the Steering Committee. Public comments have been and will continue to be taken into consideration when revising each module.

Best practices areas which are outlined within the MAHC include, but are not limited to:

  • Chemical storage
  • Bather loads
  • Safety equipment specifications
  • Facility design parameters
  • Pool slope guidelines
  • Drainage requirements
  • Lighting guidelines

Implementing MAHC

The MAHC was developed in response to a void in consistent aquatic regulatory practices. The MAHC is designed to help guide recreational water facilities to a higher standard of health and safety. The CDC stands behind a theme of “evolution, not revolution” in regards to implementing the best practices which are outlined in the MAHC. This approach will allow recreational water facilities to make changes gradually and prepare for upcoming changes as the standardized regulations are adopted by local agencies.