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LCQ21: Management of public swimming pools
     ​Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (October 18):
     Under the Public Swimming Pools Regulation (Cap 132 sub. leg. BR), no person over the age of eight years or of a height exceeding 1.35 metres shall enter the dressing room for the opposite sex.  However, some swimmers have relayed that strict enforcement of the aforesaid regulation is difficult as quite a number of young children are not accompanied to public swimming pools by parents of the same sex and most public swimming pool complexes do not provide family changing rooms at present, resulting in those parents having to bring their young children to the changing rooms for the opposite sex in order to take care of them. However, such a practice has caused embarrassment and inconvenience to other swimmers using the changing rooms. In addition, earlier there were media reports that the urea contents in the water of public swimming pools were on the high side, which might irritate the respiratory tracts, eyes and skin of swimmers and even trigger asthma attacks. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective total numbers of toilet compartments and shower cubicles in the family changing rooms at various public swimming pool complexes at present, and the respective percentages of such numbers in the total numbers of toilet compartments and shower cubicles, together with a breakdown by District Council district;
(2) whether it has examined if it is a common phenomenon for the family changing rooms being occupied by non-family swimmers; if it has examined and the outcome is in the affirmative, whether it will widely publicise the target users of such a facility; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it will provide additional family changing rooms at various public swimming pool complexes, including adding such a facility to existing public swimming pool complexes when they are refurbished; if so, of the specific plans; if not, the reasons for that; whether it has stipulated that newly built public swimming pool complexes must provide family changing rooms; if so, of the details; and
(4) whether it has conducted sampling tests on the water of public swimming pools to see if there are problems of the urea contents in the water being on the high side; if it has and the outcome is in the affirmative, whether it will strengthen the monitoring of the quality and the filtering of the water of swimming pools; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) attaches great importance to the facilities and management of water quality in public swimming pools. My reply to the question raised by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan is as follows:
(1) At present, family changing rooms are provided in all LCSD public swimming pools (except Wan Chai Swimming Pool, which is designated for group training only). Family changing rooms are generally separate rooms provided for changing clothes and mostly fitted with shower facilities and toilets. As the interior design of family changing rooms is not the same as that of ordinary male/female changing rooms, LCSD does not have information on the numbers of toilet compartments/shower cubicles in family changing rooms and their percentage in relation to the total numbers of toilet compartments/shower cubicles in changing rooms. Please refer to the Annex for a breakdown of numbers of family changing rooms in swimming pools by district.
(2) To facilitate the use of family changing rooms by caretakers of children and persons in need, guidelines on the use of family changing rooms have been drawn up by LCSD. According to the existing guidelines, people in the following groups will have priority to use family changing rooms:
(i) Adult in company of a child aged eight or below or not taller than 1.35 metres of the opposite sex alone; or
(ii) Persons with limited mobility requiring assistance from family members or caretakers of the opposite sex in changing clothes.
     Notices have been put up at appropriate locations in swimming pool complexes to inform swimmers of the above arrangement. LCSD will arrange staff to maintain order and allow persons meeting the above conditions (including non-family swimmers) to be accorded the appropriate priority to use a family changing room with regard to the usage of the facilities. Venue staff will also advise swimmers and their family members of the same sex or non-priority persons to use male/female changing rooms as far as possible. LCSD does not have information on cases of family changing rooms being used by non-family swimmers.
(3) Since the establishment of LCSD in 2000, all newly-built swimming pools have been provided with family changing rooms as a standard facility. As for public swimming pools built before 2000, they have been provided with family changing rooms during repairs or renovations with regard to the physical setting and available space of the venues. As a result, all LCSD public swimming pools (except Wan Chai Swimming Pool, which is designated for group training only) are provided with at least one family changing room. LCSD will continue liaising with works department and assess and explore the feasibility of further providing additional family changing rooms in the planning of major repairs or renovations. In general, LCSD will take into account of factors such as the design of swimming pool complexes, usage of facilities, age groups of users, venue settings and space constraints of venues as well as the findings of technical feasibility study, etc. in considering the number of family changing rooms.
(4) LCSD attaches great importance to the hygiene of public swimming pools. Pool water of its 44 public swimming pools is continuously circulated, filtered and sterilised throughout the opening hours. Making reference to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) (the Guidelines), LCSD has drawn up the parameters for monitoring the water quality of its public swimming pools. Such parameters include, among other things, the Free Residual Chlorine, pH value, total bacteria count, E. coli, Vibrio cholerae and turbidity of pool water. According to the Guidelines, urea content is not one of the parameters to be monitored for pool water. In addition, LCSD consults the Department of Health from time to time on issues relating to hygiene and health. To ensure that the hygiene of pool water is up to standard, water samples are taken by pool staff for testing of residual chlorine levels and pH value on an hourly basis during opening hours. LCSD has also assigned accredited laboratories to conduct testing on the pool water of its swimming pools on a weekly basis to ascertain that the water quality is up to the relevant standard. Publicity efforts have been stepped up to urge swimmers to observe personal hygiene, including reminding them not to pollute pool water and to go through a shower and visit the toilet before swimming, etc.
Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:48
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