New Law Prompts Some Kansas Cities to Close Water Slides

July 10, 2017

Some Kansas cities are closing water slides at pools and aquatic centers this summer at least until confusion over a new state law that increased regulation of amusement park rides is cleared up.

The law, which took effect July 1, was passed this year after a state lawmaker’s son, Caleb Schwab, died last summer on the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas. It imposes new inspection and permit requirements on amusement rides, although a portion of the law that imposes criminal penalties for operating a ride without a license was delayed until Jan. 1 to give ride operators time to comply with the new regulations.

The law defines a water slide as an amusement ride if it is “a slide that is at least 15 feet in height and that uses water to propel the patron through the ride,” The Kansas City Star reported.

“The legislation is kind of confusing to people” because it isn’t clear whether the water on some of the slides propels people forward, said Erik Sartorius, executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Cities are closing water slides at least until they determine whether they are required to get a permit and an inspection, Sartorius said. Cities are trying to get inspections done as soon as possible, he said, but “there are virtually no inspectors available.”

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District has closed a swirl slide at the Roeland Park Aquatic Center until further notice.

The district “has initiated the application process, and is in the process of scheduling inspections by a qualified inspector,” it said in a statement.

Lindsborg has closed its “Thor’s Revenge” water slide. “Kids aren’t happy, but we’ll do our best to get it back in operation,” city parks director Gary Shogren said.

The law was part of the reason Chanute closed its water slide, parks director Todd Newman, although there were also concerns about the ride’s safety.

“We knew our slide probably won’t pass inspection, and so that was worrying the parks board. And then second was because of the new law,” Newman said.

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