Posted Monday, December 4, 2017 12:08 PM | Contributed by Jeff
The water in Kennywood Park’s Raging Rapids, a simulated whitewater rafting ride where a Squirrel Hill man claims a parasite damaged one of his eyes this summer, was never tested for contaminants or pathogens by state or county agencies. In fact, none of the water-related rides in any of the more than a dozen amusement parks across the state are monitored, tested or regulated for water quality by state or local government agencies.
Read more from The Post-Gazette.
Two things stand out here:
“We contacted the CDC and it did not suggest that we test the water at the Raging Rapids. The microsporidia is so small that even if it’s there, we might not find it,” Dr. Hacker said. “And even if we did find it, it wouldn’t prove that he came in contact with it there, because he had been swimming in other water during that time.”
“That water can be a potential pathway for illness, but the question is, is it?” she said. “And at this point, without evidence it’s contributing to disease and illness, the question is, why would we regulate it?"
Picturing Abby Sciuto in her lab testing the DNA of the miscrsporidia from the man, and from the ride, to prove that the water in Raging Rapids is (or is most certainly not) the actual point-source of the illness.
I'd have imagined some routine pH testing and chlorine levels like you might for your home pool, with more in-depth independent lab testing at the beginning of the season and mid-season...kind of surprised. As I said on FB, I'd be surprised if the park doesn't find it cheaper to simply pay the relatively small sum - especially considering this new-to-me information from this artcle: "But Mr. Perer said his client’s eye problem began two days after he was at Kennywood, and that two days also is the incubation period for the microsporidia parasite."
I'd read in some health magazine that contact lens wearers were at specific risk for the eye issue he had - and read here that an open injury (Dr. Veldkamp mentioned "eye abrasions"). Seems likely it came in through that open wound and incubated directly in his eye, and that he'd scratched his eye putting in or removing contacts. An unlikely chain of events....but shouldn't someone be required to test the water?
Considering how rare this kind of infection is, I would say probably not. If there are fewer than 100 cases in "recorded literature," that's a pretty remote thing. I would think the conversation would be over as soon as they indicated he had been swimming other places. I mean, where is the line? I go in the ocean, and no one is testing that.
I'm pretty confident that Pennsylvania isn't the only state that doesn't do routine testing on their water rides.
My park is not in PA, and our state regulations require our hard ride water rides to comply with our state bathing code for recreational bathing facilities, essentially making them “swimming pools”. I’m shocked that PA doesn’t require something similar, especially considering that PA has been historically progressive with regulatory matters regarding amusement rides operating there.
While this particular case is likely a one off, and would have been almost impossible to prevent, there are some easy and commonly known best practices with regard to water testing and operating water amusement rides that could have been in place. Again, these wouldn’t have likely prevented this particular case, but it would have at least made the case easier to defend.
It’s going to boil down to if Kennywood can prove that they were taking every reasonable attempt operationally to make this water attraction safe for their guests. If plaintiffs council can successfully prove that Kennywood wasn't, it is going to be a more difficult claim to defend.
Hanging n' Banging said:
My park is not in PA, and our state regulations require our hard ride water rides to comply with our state bathing code for recreational bathing facilities, essentially making them “swimming pools”. I’m shocked that PA doesn’t require something similar, especially considering that PA has been historically progressive with regulatory matters regarding amusement rides operating there
If memory serves me right neither does the state of Ohio. Snake River Falls pulls it's water out of Lake Erie, as did other water rides there in the past. The only ride that used "city water" was the log flume on the main midway. I don't recall what the last incarnation of Shoot the Rapids used for water but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't pumped out the lake as well.Last edited by Dutchman, Tuesday, December 5, 2017 5:09 PM
Thunder Canyon is the ride that draws its water from Lake Erie. As you drive around Perimeter Road you can see its intake from the lake that feeds into the ride. Snake River Falls does have chlorine added and daily testing done to its water just as the pools in Soak City do. This would have been the case with White Water Landing and I assume Shoot the Rapids as well.
Thought I heard that Kennywood pulls it's water for Raging Rapids from the Mon River, but never heard if it's tested. That's a big hill to pump water up to the ride, but pretty sure it's drained every day and refilled the next.
I doubt it's drained and refilled fresh every day. I've never been to the park, but by looking at Google maps, I would say the water from the trough drains into a reservoir when not in use. That's how most water rides function.
The water is stored in the reservoir overnight and I’m fairly certain comes from the municipal supply when it needs refilled.
The water was tested daily when I worked there ~6 years ago and I have no reason to believe that is no longer the case.
Aaaaaand I'm never going to ride wet rides or go to water parks again. Ewwwww. That is all.
Well reconsider showering too then. One of my husband's coworkers years ago scratched her eyeball on accident taking her contacts out and ended up with some kind if ick from the city water in her eyeball. I think she ended up with a cornea replacement or something.
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