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Spray / Splash Pad Guidelines for Owners and Operators

Topics Discussed:

  1. Purpose
  2. Structural Design and Construction Considerations
  3. Water Quality Considerations
  4. Safe Operation
  5. Glossary of Terms
  6. References

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide direction to owners and operators of spray/ splash pads concerning the construction, operation, safety and maintenance of these facilities located within the Niagara region.

There are several risks associated with the use of spray/splash pads. These risks include injuries related to the physical structure and operation of the facility, as well as the risk of waterborne illnesses from exposure to contaminated water.

To reduce the risk of injury, illness or death to facility patrons, it is imperative that the owner/operator of a non-regulated recreational water facility construct, operate, and maintain the facility in a safe manner in accordance with applicable legislation and guidance material, including this document.

2. Structural Design and Construction Considerations

The spray/splash pads should be designed and constructed in a manner that ensures the safety of the users, by following these guidelines:

  • Natural or artificial lighting should be adequate to ensure that all areas within the water contact perimeter (including the main drain/grates) are clearly visible from a viewing point at or near the water's edge outside of the water containing structure
  • All surfaces should be maintained free of potential hazards
  • All surfaces should be made from non-slip material (including stairs) which will reduce the risk of falls
  • All spray/splash pad surfaces should slope to drain
  • No spray/splash pad surface should slope more than 8% (8 centimetres down for every 100 centimetres in length)
  • Where water is allowed to be retained for a short period of time, the depth of the retained water basin should not exceed 15 centimetres
  • If the water collected at the base of the pad takes more than 15 minutes to drain, it should be a re-circulating system
  • Perimeter of pad is designed to prevent water entering from the surrounding area
  • Play surfaces and equipment designed to prevent injury
  • Where playground equipment is installed in the spray/splash pad, it should be appropriate for the water depth. Spray/splash pad owners/operators should follow the manufacturer standards and contact the Canadian Standards Association regarding compliance with the CAN/CSA-z614-2008 Children's Playspaces and Equipment playground safety standards (
  • Back-flow prevention devices must be provided on water supply lines
  • All water suction outlets or drains within the water-bearing structure are fitted with anti-entrapment coverings or are anti-entrapment by design, and where appropriate, the suction systems are equipped with a vacuum relief mechanism or another engineered system
  • Where any facility component is powered by electricity, ground fault circuit interrupters are functioning (owners/operators should be advised to contact the Electrical Safety Authority regarding compliance with the Electrical Code)
  • If provided, the water heater temperature is not to exceed 40°C
  • Provisions are made for the safe storage and handling of all chemicals required

3. Water Quality Considerations

All water used in the facility comes from a source that is free of potential disease-causing organisms or harmful chemicals or is treated prior to being circulated to ensure it is free of potential disease-causing organisms or harmful chemicals.

To ensure the water used in the facility is maintained free of potential disease-causing organisms, the water must be:

  • Used once and drained away from the play area within 15 minutes (non re-circulating); or
  • Provided with appropriate filtration and disinfection (re-circulating)

Re-circulating Systems

Where a re-circulating system is used the following specifications must be in place:

  • The circulation system must be running during operating hours
  • Continually refresh the water by discharging 15% of the water directly to waste and adding 15% fresh water whenever water is being circulated to the spray/splash pad
  • There must be a disinfection system that is operated by an automatic dosing device (bromine or chlorine)
  • The water chemistry is maintained in a manner that allows for effective disinfection and comfort to bathers and the water chemistry is monitored by using an appropriate test kit
  • The recirculated water must pass through the following treatment steps:

    1. Filtration
    2. Chemical disinfection with either chlorine or bromine
    3. Retention in a storage tank to allow effective disinfection
    4. Treatment with ultraviolet light (eg. NSF or equivalent approval) capable of rendering cysts and oocysts inactive before water enters the spray/splash pads

    (This is the primary disinfection activity to ensure recreational water is free of microorganisms)


  • Turbidity monitoring and control should be in place to ensure that the ultra violet treatment device is effective
  • Ultra violet treatment units should have a mechanism in place to prevent water from being directed to the spray /splash pad in the event of equipment malfunction

4. Safe Operation

4.1 General Guidelines

  • Spray/splash pad area is clean and free from obstacles or items that may cause injury, illness, or death
  • All gratings and covers need to be securely fastened
  • Maintain water clarity to ensure that all areas within the water (including the main drain/grates) are clearly visible from a viewing point at or near the water edge
  • Use of the spray/ splash pad must be discontinued when there is contamination of the water or a health or safety concern is identified
  • Store chemicals so that they are only accessible to the operator

4.2 Supervision

  • Provide sufficient supervision of the facility for the purposes of ensuring safe use and response to adverse events

4.3 Testing Frequency for Recirculating Systems

  • To ensure that the filtration and disinfection treatment systems are operating in accordance with their design, the system should be checked daily one-half hour prior to opening and every two hours during operation
  • Where the level of disinfectant or pH is controlled by an automatic device, the operation of the device should be checked by doing a manual test of the disinfectant or pH in the water at least once a day
  • Where the disinfection level is controlled by an automatic sensing device, the Oxidation Reduction Potential value should be above 700 mV

Maintain a log book

It is recommended that the operator keep daily records of the following:

  • Filtration, disinfection and addition of fresh water
  • Total number of users each day
  • Emergencies, rescues, or breakdowns of equipment that have occurred
  • The daily record should be retained for a minimum of one year

4.4 Emergency Procedures

Emergency procedures for spray/splash pads should be in a place conveniently located for emergency use. It should include the following:

  • Contact information for local fire, ambulance and police services
  • The full name and address of the spray/splash pad (including nearest intersection)
  • If provided, where the emergency telephone is located

The owner and/or operator should maintain procedures in response to emergency incidents (e.g. fouling of water), and train facility staff in the procedures.

4.5 Notices

Owners and/or operators are to post the following signs that set out health and safety rules for spray pad or splash pad users (owners and/or operators may include additional rules that are appropriate for their particular facility).

  • Parents or guardians must supervise their children at all times when using the spray pad/splash pad
  • Children should be appropriately attired for their age and continence ability to prevent fouling the pool
  • No glass containers, food or beverages are allowed in the spray/splash pad area or in the area immediately surrounding the spray/splash pad
  • Recreational water is not intended for drinking
  • Do not enter the spray/splash pad if you have an open sore or rash, or are experiencing nausea, vomiting , or diarrhea
  • No person shall pollute the water or surface of the spray/splash pad in any manner or the immediate area surrounding the spray/splash pad
  • No person shall engage in boisterous play in or around the spray/splash pad in any manner

4.6 First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is recommended to be available and located in a convenient place for emergency use. It should contain the following items:

  • A current copy of a standard First Aid Manual
  • 12 safety pins
  • 24 adhesive dressings, individually wrapped
  • 12 sterile gauze pads, each 75 millimetres square
  • 4 rolls of 50 millimetre gauze bandage
  • 4 rolls of 100 millimetre gauze bandage
  • 4 sterile surgical pads suitable for pressure dressings, individually wrapped
  • 6 triangular bandages
  • 2 rolls of splint padding
  • 1 roll-up splint
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 pairs of non-permeable gloves
  • 1 resuscitation pocket mask

4.7 Responding to Fouling of Spray/Splash Pads

If the spray/splash pad has been contaminated due to fouling the following steps should be taken:

  • Ensure users leave the spray /splash pad
  • Drain the spray /splash pad and the recirculation system
  • Clean and disinfect the spray /splash pad and any equipment used ( e.g. net or bucket)
  • Ensure proper operation of the spray /splash pad prior to reopening

For further information or questions related to this guideline, please call your local Public Health Inspector at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7268.

5. Glossary of Terms

  • Anti-entrapment covering
    A pipe cover to prevent spray/splash pad users from being trapped by the suction of the pad drain
  • Automatic dosing device
    A chemical feeder that has valves controlled by electronic equipment to deliver needed chemicals. The electronic device (controller) receives signals from electrodes (probes) that monitor the water's properties
  • Back-flow prevention devices
    Prevents contaminated or untreated water exiting the spray/splash pad to re-enter plumbing or contaminate treated water
  • Bromine
    Is used as a disinfectant to destroy harmful microorganisms that are capable of causing disease
  • Chlorine
    Is used as a disinfectant to destroy harmful microorganisms that are capable of causing disease
  • Free available chlorine
    The concentration (parts per million, ppm) of chlorine in the water that is readily available for disinfection
  • Fouling
    Describes when the spray/splash pad becomes contaminated with fecal matter, vomit, blood or other organic material that may be harmful to a person's health
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters
    Installed in electrical outlets which comes into contact with water or wet bathers, in order to prevent accidental electrocution or electrical shock
  • Make-up water
    Potable water added to replace water lost through evaporation, backwash, swimming splash-out, and/ or intentional water discharge
  • Oxidation reduction potential
    Described as a value to monitor disinfectant effectiveness
  • pH
    A measure of the balance between acidity and basicity (alkaline qualities) of a solution. A pH below 7.0 is considered acidic. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. A pH above 7.0 is considered alkaline
  • Total alkalinity
    The amount of bicarbonate, carbonate, or hydroxide compounds present in a water solution. Total alkalinity is a measure of the buffering capacity of water against rapid pH change
  • Vacuum relief mechanism
    A device or valve used to prevent excess vacuum /pressure from building up in a system and preventing unnecessary suction of water

6. References

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