About Air and Water

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Water Gardens deaths lead to safety amendment

By Mike Lee - Star-Telegram Staff Writer - Thu, Aug. 02, 2007
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, wants the federal government to educate cities about the dangers of ornamental fountains, in response to the 2004 deaths of four tourists in the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

Burgess attached an amendment to an existing bill that would encourage the Consumer Product Safety Commission to educate the public about the danger of drowning in swimming pools, and encourage manufacturers to include safety features such as anti-entrapment drains, fences and safety covers in new pools.

The amendment would expand the educational program to include "ornamental pools" such as the Water Gardens, which has three large pools surrounded by concrete steps and plazas.

"I hope that through this amendment, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be able to educate cities on the unseen dangers hidden in ornamental pools," Burgess said.

Fort Worth officials redesigned the main pool of the Water Gardens to reduce the suction of the drain system after the accident.

The safety commission will also have $10 million to give to states that want to begin their own educational programs. Burgess' staff members said they didn't know which, if any, Texas agency would be in charge of such a program. The bill has been approved by a subcommittee, and must be approved by the full committee on energy and commerce and then by the full House and Senate.

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