Managing Aquatic Facilities

These conduct concerns can lead to the need for increased security, but that may be difficult when juggling the bottom line of a profit statement. Since it is impossible to cover all areas of a park at all times, typical problems such as guest altercations, injuries, theft, and vandalism should be tracked. This is helpful in formulating a pre-season checklist that highlights risk concerns, secure entry points, and all cash-handling outlets. This information should be tracked throughout the season to create a trend analysis and facility audit. Open communication with general managers, administration, and owners on these issues is imperative, as funds can only be allocated or adjustments made to staffing dollars for security personnel or equipment if they know there is a problem. It’s also a good idea to conduct a post-season meeting to review all areas of facility safety in order to create a plan for the following year to alleviate or refine policies and procedures.


Water-park operators are continuously asked to do more with less; this leads to situations where it is a challenge to ensure there is enough staff to sufficiently oversee the pool decks of large facilities. With the number of full-time staff in the industry stagnant, more responsibility is being placed on the shoulders of part-time or inexperienced deck supervisors. Previously, “deck supervision” meant to watch the lifeguards, respond to emergencies, and assist guests. Now–in addition to those duties–the job means helping with food and beverage, running the first-aid station, checking chemicals, auditing staff, organizing and ordering facility inventory, planning special events, cleaning the bathrooms, and teaching a lifeguard class. It is tough to do all of these tasks and still maintain a culture of strong lifeguard vigilance, guest service, and facility care. Also, with sprawling water-park layouts, the challenge is to keep an eye on lifeguards to ensure they are watching the water or dispatching correctly; the guest-service staff, to make sure trash cans are empty and cash-handling is top-notch; and guests, to make sure the facility is safe from predators, rule breakers, or unhappy paying patrons. The responsibility for success in supervision of the facility depends on an efficient, well-planned training program and consistent communication with the administration or ownership to reiterate the importance of vigilant deck management. The challenge for all water-park operators–both public and private–is always going to be balancing strong guest care and facility safety with revenue or profit growth. By taking the time to properly plan for the unexpected and by keeping an open dialogue with the powers that be, the operator can be successful in this balancing act.

Water parks can be a world of fun for all parties, but they are the most unique entity in the industry, and must be treated as such. Even though the term “water park” can mean public, private, large, or small, they are not created equal, just like the titles of the people running them.

Adam Blackmore is the Aquatics Manager for the city ofHenderson Parks & Recreation inNevada. He has been in the aquatic industry for eight years working in both the public and private sector. He holds current certifications as a lifeguard training instructor, CPR & First Aid instructor, Certified Pool Operator, and Aquatic Facility Operator, and is aCertifiedParks and Recreation Professional. He can be reached via email at

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