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State Not Inspecting Older Waterslides

The summer is in full swing, but the state is no longer checking up on some of your beloved pastimes.

You be surprised to find out the state no longer inspects waterslides on an annual basis.

Back in May of 2003, a Department of Commerce code was changed, leaving the department responsible for reviewing design plans of new waterslides, and leaving older waterslides hanging out to dry.

"One of our supervisors will walk down these slides here," says Mt. Olympus Aquatics Coordinator Troy Loferski as he points to one of their many slides, "And they will inspect the seams and the integrity of the smooth surface of the slide."

Loferski coordinates aquatics at the water and theme park in the Wisconsin Dells.

He says they occasionally see state inspectors.

"Right now they just inspect the new slides."

A few years ago, inspection responsibilities were split between the Departments of Commerce and Health and Family Services.

Now DHFS plans to start checking them again.

"We go out at least once a year, if not more, to look at water quality, making sure there aren't any public health issues and that they have lifeguarding rules in place," says DHFS Communications Director Stephanie Marquis, "And what we're also looking at is changing our rules so that they're even stronger to make sure the waterslides themselves continue to get checked."

"I wasn't surprised," says Loferski, "They have made adjustments in their budgets and we just took it upon our responsibility to take over from where they left off."

Still, a lack of state inspections raises safety concerns.

But park owners and operators say there is no need to worry.

"There really are not any moving parts on waterslides and it's different from what the Department of Commerce does with amusement rides, where you have a lot of moving parts, a lot of mechanical issues, a lot of stress that could result in injury," says Mt. Olympus owner Jim Mattei.

Loferski adds, "We're not going to open a slide unless it is safe and free from any damage that may occur."

The bottomline: existing waterslides are not currently inspected by the state. But DHFS says it does plan to change its code to include ongoing waterslide inspections.

Mattei assures NBC 15 it's a waterpark standard to inspect all waterslides every morning, prior to the opening of the park.

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