- Session Laws
Jan 23, 2002
HB 263-REGULATION OF HOT SPRINGS WATER
VICE CHAIR FATE announced that the first order of business
before the committee would be HOUSE BILL NO. 263, "An Act
relating to water quality standards applicable to flow-through
hot springs pools."
JAY HARDENBROOK, Staff to Representative Hugh Fate, Alaska State
Legislature, presented the sponsor statement for HB 263 on
behalf of Representative Fate. He informed the committee that
HB 263 would eliminate any requirements to chlorinate flow-
through hot springs. He offered the definition of "flow-
through", which he described as a hot spring that has equal
amounts of water flowing in and flowing out at the same time.
He noted that bacteria are constantly flowing out. He went on
to say that the [requirement] would be set at 100 parts [fecal]
coliform to 100 milliliters of [water]. He indicated that this
was not based on regulation but instead on the [Chena Hot
Springs] agreement [with the Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC)] that went into place. He indicated as long
as the hot springs can keep the [fecal coliform] count low
enough and [prevent] disease-causing pathogens within the water,
and as long as the [hot springs] is constantly being tested,
then the water does not have to be chlorinated.
MR. HARDENBROOK said the reason for this legislation is because
there have been [court] cases and [commercial] hot springs have
been put out of business for not chlorinating the water. He
indicated that in several of the cases it wasn't practical for
the hot springs to be chlorinated. He explained that "flowing
up" from the bottom [prevents] chlorinating the water; in some
cases, it is not practical to [transport] chlorine out to the
location of the hot spring. He suggested this bill could
potentially be a rural stimulus for the economy in those areas
where the hot springs are located.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS asked how many commercial hot springs are
located in Alaska.
VICE CHAIR FATE pointed out that there are hot springs located
in Southeast Alaska, Southcentral Alaska, Western Alaska, and
several in the Interior of Alaska. He indicated there are not
any [commercial] hot springs located on the North Slope or on
Kodiak Island. He suggested that the question is not about how
many [hot springs] are commercial at the present time, but how
many could be commercial. Vice Chair Fate said there's no
chance of any of the [hot springs] becoming commercial except
for the ones that have been established for many years.
VICE CHAIR FATE explained that it is [difficult] to
commercialize because of the restrictions in place regarding
"chloride", which has to be placed in the [hot spring] to reduce
the pathogens, including fecal [coliform]. He mentioned that
there is currently an agreement in place with [Chena] Hot
Springs that sets the standard. He suggested that if the
standards of the bill are being met, then there is no reason to
put chlorine into the water to make it safer.
VICE CHAIR FATE expressed hope that the bill will induce some
commercialization in the rural areas where many of the hot
springs are located. He suggested that people go to a hot
springs for what they perceive to be "medicinal" reasons, as
well as for the aesthetics of being in a hot springs. He said
[people] don't like the smell of chlorine while sitting in a
natural hot spring.
VICE CHAIR FATE noted that there have been several attempts to
commercialize in the rural parts of the state. He indicated
that Tolovana Hot Springs experienced [difficulty] because it
was not chlorinated and did not have a lifeguard. He said it's
an illustration of how little things can stand in the way of
true economy in those areas that "we've been preaching economy."
He remarked, "This really is a two-edged sword." He noted that
one [commercial hot springs] had closed because of
[restrictions]. He commented that that was the reason this bill
was brought forward.
VICE CHAIR FATE added that he thinks it is a very simple bill;
the simpler and the more efficient the bill is, the better the
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE said she thinks the bill is great. She
discussed the fiscal note. She read, "With this legislation,
the department will experience a lighter regulation load. This
indicates an undetermined positive fiscal note." She said she
wants to know what the amount of the [positive fiscal note] is.
She also remarked that she thought the amount of regulations
that [currently exist] is excessive and has a very big cost.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE turned attention to the fecal coliform
regulations in the bill. She asked if DEC would go to the [hot
springs] and check the level of [fecal coliform].
VICE CHAIR FATE answered "yes"; DEC would check the level [of
fecal coliform]. He suggested that DEC has an interest and may
even demand that samples be sent in for testing. He said [DEC]
would be able to distinguish phony samples from [authentic]
samples. He explained that DEC has a database to use for
[verification] and would go out and test the water in the
beginning, which would make it hard to "cheat" on the [testing].
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE pointed out that the term "flow-through"
is used in the bill, whereas the term "constantly recycling" is
used in the sponsor statement. She asked if the [terms] are
meant to be the same thing.
VICE CHAIR FATE said the [terms] are the same thing.
JANICE ADAIR, Director, Division of Environmental Health,
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), testified via
teleconference. She informed the committee that regulation of
hot springs and pools is the [responsibility] of DEC. She said
that this legislation is a [result] of a situation that DEC has
at Chena Hot Spots, located outside of Fairbanks. She explained
that there was a natural hot spring at [Chena Hot Spring] that
had been modified into a pool that was lined. She commented
that it was made into a very "nice looking" modified hot spring.
She continued to say that DEC's current regulations for pools
and spas simply do not fit the circumstance that exists at Chena
Hot Springs. She said it is the only hot springs in the state
that is commercially operated the way it is. She explained that
all of the other [hot springs] that are commercially operated
are made of manmade materials, including cement. She continued
to explain that the hot springs [water] may flow in and then
flow back out, much like the pool at Chena Hot Springs, but it
is set up as a pool.
MS. ADAIR said the part of the problem with this legislation is
the definition of a "flow-through hot springs pool". She
explained that there is no requirement that the hot springs
reservoir be [made] of natural material or that it be a
naturally existing hot springs. She said by the way the
definition reads the [hot spring] could be made out of cement or
concrete. She explained that the temperature of the water is
ideal for bacterial growth. She indicated that people have
large amounts of bacteria on their bodies. She said as people
use the [hot springs] water, they leave bacteria behind, which
can affect people in a very negative way.
MS. ADAIR said fecal coliform is not the only concern; there
have been occurrences of Cryptosporidium, Legionnaires' Disease,
and other types of illnesses caused by insufficiently
disinfected water used in a pool. She cited Liard River Hot
Springs in British Colombia as an example of a natural hot
springs, that had not been dug out, lined, or enlarged. She
said the only modification to the hot springs was benches added
to it for seating. She said the reason for not chlorinating a
natural hot springs is because the natural flora and fauna of
the hot springs cleanse the water of bacteria that humans
[contaminate] it with. She indicated that it is a natural
balancing act that occurs in the water.
MS. ADAIR explained that is not necessarily the situation at
Chena Hot Springs because it is no longer the natural hot
springs as it existed with the flora and fauna. She said [Chena
Hot Springs] has been dug out and lined, and the DEC is unsure
of the effects on the bacterial load of the water.
MS. ADAIR explained that DEC entered into an individual
agreement with the operator of Chena Hot Springs, which she said
DEC considers to be the best approach for the modified hot
springs. She pointed out that this [agreement] will allow
[Chena Hot Springs] to "retain their unique flavor" but also
recognize that [various] bacteria will grow in the water. She
said the need is to protect public health.
MS. ADAIR said having a "one-size-fits-all regulation for any
system that wants to develop like Chena Hot Springs is not going
to work." She said [DEC] recognized that and she explained it
in a letter sent on May 3, 2001. She said that is how a lot of
states regulate those types of modified natural hot springs;
however, most states do not regulate unmodified natural hot
springs. She indicated that Alaska does not [currently]
regulate unmodified natural hot springs and does not intend to.
She explained that in the [situation] where the hot spring had
been modified and had lost the natural balancing act of the
flora and fauna, it would be important for the protection of
public health that the hot spring be properly operated,
maintained, and disinfected, or at least be drained and
refilled, whatever method works to protect public health.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Ms. Adair, if the bill were to pass
as it is currently written, if it would make her [unable] to
fulfill the job that she is required to do.
MS. ADAIR answered "yes" to the question. She added that she
believes it puts public health at risk.
VICE CHAIR FATE commented that the bill is not about Chena Hot
Springs. He said the bill is about other hot springs and
enabling other hot springs to thrive. He indicated that he
would be willing to amend the term "flow-through" if better
language is needed. He suggested that it is up to DEC to
determine the [level] of pathogens; he also expressed concern
about the safety of the people who bathe in hot springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE said it is the department's [responsibility] to
make those regulations, which is why the committee didn't try to
impose any regulations in this bill. He indicated that the
committee adopted the standard that DEC [previously] set in the
level of [safe] pathogens. He agreed the hot springs should be
safe. He reiterated that this bill was not specific to Chena
Hot Springs, although the resulting agreement between Chena Hot
Springs and DEC played a large role in the standard that was
adopted in this bill.
VICE CHAIR FATE referred to language in the sponsor statement.
He reiterated that if Ms. Adair had better language than the
term "flow-through", the committee would listen to that
MS. ADAIR said she had made some suggestions for [alternatives]
to the term flow-through in the letter from DEC sent on May 3,
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS asked about the issue of draining and
refilling the [hot springs]. He asked if it was possible in
places such as Chena Hot Springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE answered "yes"; the emptying and filling of [the
hot springs water] was the interpretation of flow-through.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS asked Ms. Adair for clarification about
what she meant by draining and refilling.
MS. ADAIR explained that Chena Hot Springs has the ability to
drain the water out of the modified hot springs pool. She said
it naturally refills from the bottom. She explained that there
are some pipes at the top; the same amount of water comes in as
goes out in a natural event, but it's not enough by itself to
create the circulation needed to keep the bacteria level down.
She commented that [Chena] Hot Springs has some curves and bends
in it where it doesn't really get any circulation, which causes
a buildup of "unattractive" water.
VICE CHAIR FATE suggested that by diluting "something" 6-to-1,
changing the volume six times, it would leave no residue left to
clean except 1 part per billion. He said the [amount] is so
minute that it is not even to be considered. He offered an
example: the process of cleaning a receptacle used for analysis
in chemistry. He said the receptacle is flushed out by volume
six times, and the residue that is left cannot even be
chemically detected. He indicated that the state has set the
standard for pathogens that the flow-through has to maintain;
whatever the [standard] is set at will have to be the flow-
through [standard] at that particular hot springs.
REPRESENTATIVE JIM WHITAKER, Alaska State Legislature, testified
in support of HB 263. He said he would like to have Bernie
Karl, Co-Owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, respond and answer
specific questions about the situation. He said although [Chena
Hot Springs] should not be the issue, it has become the issue.
He said he thought the questions relating to [Chena Hot Springs]
needed to be addressed.
BERNIE KARL, Co-Owner, Chena Hot Springs Resort, testified via
teleconference. He informed the committee that when the hot
springs at Chena Hot Springs Resort was natural, it had three to
four feet of organic "goo" on the bottom of it. He said the
"goo" was full of bacteria and [DEC] let people swim in the [hot
springs], which is why there were problems. He explained that
the organic matter was cleaned out of the hot spring, which was
refilled with decomposed granite; [water] is naturally flowing
through the [hot spring] at 10,000 gallons an hour. He said
that is not counting the hundreds of thousands of gallons a day
that are flowing through the groundwater itself. He said it is
not just the 10,000 gallons coming in and going out; that is
what is happening in the lake itself. There are 2.5 turnovers
in 24 hours at 10,000 gallons an hour. He said that does not
account for the hydrology of the water that's flowing through
the ground. He explained that this is calculated by [using] a
pump that pumps 1,500 gallons a minute and has to be left
running 24 hours a day to maintain the water level. He said
that equals 1,500 gallons a minute flowing through the ground
itself. He commented that to say there are areas that have no
water flowing is a misrepresentation of the hot springs. He
suggested that the [standard] 100 [fecal coliform] colonies or
less per 100 milliliters of water comes out of recreational-
water standards of the State of Alaska.
MR. KARL continued to say that recreational waters are tested
annually; however, Chena Hot Springs Resort had agreed to test
its water monthly. He commented that Chena Lake hasn't been
tested in two or three years. He said the highest level of
[fecal coliform] that [Chena Hot Springs] has had in 24 months
is a count of 7; normally [the count] averages between 0 and 2.
He said his count is taken after there have been hundreds of
people using the water. He suggested that people have been
going to the hot springs for its "curative properties" since the
earth was created; the Native population has been going there
because they understand the curative properties; the people from
Fairbanks go there for the [effect] the minerals have on their
skin. He remarked that he feels ten years younger and 300
percent better from using the "healing" waters of Chena [Hot
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said that since the agreement with DEC,
under the current operating procedure at Chena Hot Springs,
there had not been any problem associated with the natural flow-
through "rock lake," which is the modified hot springs. He said
the agreement that is in effect is reflected in the language of
the bill. He asked what the problem is, if it has worked for a
year and a half. He suggested that it seems time to provide
some surety for those who are willing to invest in this type of
endeavor. He commented that it is very difficult to do so
without knowing which sort of regulatory regime under which to
operate. This provides a modicum of clarity.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked if these [provisions] should
extend to any [type of] pool. She indicated that the concern
might be in having legislation that will extend to all pools.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER suggested that the legislation is broad
enough in its language to allow the DEC to fulfill its mandate
of protecting the public health. He indicated that the language
of the legislation does not preclude DEC from doing what it
needs to do. He said it does provide clarity to the extent
possible; therefore, it is necessary and can help to avoid the
problems that [Chena Hot Springs] had encountered. He said that
is the intent. Representative Whitaker remarked that this
[bill] is not meant to be confining to DEC, but rather to
provide enough clarity so that no matter the circumstance,
endeavor, or the hot springs, and regardless of personalities
involved, the result is a statute that allows investment to
progress with some clarity.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE turned attention to the letter that Ms.
Adair sent to the committee on May 3, 2001. She pointed out
that in the letter Ms. Adair had suggested a subsection (b) that
would define a natural hot spring. She said she had an idea
that would modify that [subsection] slightly and offer some
assurances. She suggested modifying that section to read,
"'natural hot springs' means a naturally occurring impoundment
into which geothermal water flows, seeps, or is otherwise held."
She said the definition that DEC suggested would regulate
modifications made to the [hot springs]. She suggested that the
initial sentence of [subsection (b)] define a "natural hot
MS. ADAIR explained that the reason for the second sentence in
the proposed [subsection (b)] is to make it clear that [the
inclusion of] access or "bather comfort" [items] such as steps
and benches would not mean that the natural hot springs was no
longer natural. She said it would mean that the [hot springs]
could have those modifications and not fall out of the natural
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE remarked that the debate seems to be
about modifications. She asked if adding the second sentence
would encompass all hot springs. She pointed out that the
modifications that Chena Hot Springs has made are more than
those modifications described in the second sentence.
MS. ADAIR said that is correct. She explained that Chena Hot
Springs is a modified hot springs, unlike Liard Hot Springs,
which has had benches and steps put into it; [Chena Hot Springs]
has been dug out, enlarged, and lined.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE remarked that Representative Whitaker is
not going to want the second sentence in [subsection (b)]
included because the whole purpose of the bill is to allow hot
springs like Chena Hot Springs, which are modified, to exist.
She said she was trying to address Representative Kerttula's
concern that the [committee] doesn't make the bill so broad that
"swimming pool" might fall into the definition. She said the
first sentence does provide some clarity about what a natural
hot springs means.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he can see how DEC feels it is
necessary to distinguish between the two [types of hot springs].
He said based on what he's heard, he thinks Chena Hot Springs
falls into the second description. He asked if this definition
would preclude Chena Hot Springs from operating.
VICE CHAIR FATE indicated it would be precluded from operating
because it is made from manmade material. He said if the bill
goes through, the modification of the language is such that
manmade material cannot be used.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he understands that. He said that if
the bill is modified [to include subsection (b)], it would still
allow [Chena Hot Springs] to operate.
VICE CHAIR FATE said the [committee] is not talking about just
Chena Hot Springs.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he understands that this bill covers
Alaska; it doesn't just cover what has been done at Chena Hot
Springs. He said that is the issue; [Chena Hot Springs] would
like to fall under something that doesn't require that. He said
if that's the case, then that is between Chena Hot Springs and
the State of Alaska. He offered that this is legislation
covering the entire state, but elsewhere there might be a
situation in which the State of Alaska would not make that same
agreement. He indicated that just because it works at Chena
does not mean it will work at other hot springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE responded that this is not legislation
concerning what constitutes what a hot springs is made of;
rather, it is about water, including the medicinal values of
water and putting chlorine in water. He reiterated that people
don't go to hot springs to bathe in chlorinated water. He went
on to say that this bill is not about swimming pools or concrete
structures but rather it is about a hot springs where people go
to bathe. He said even though the operator of a hot springs
feels that putting fresh gravel in the bottom helps to cleanse
the water and keep the [algae] off of the bottom, it is a hot
springs with a flow-through factor, which ameliorates the number
of bacterial colonies per 100 milliliters.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he is concerned that the way the bill
is written, [it may interfere] with DEC's obligation as a
department because covers too wide of a spectrum and [issues]
the committee is not [aware] of. He indicated it might be all
right for Chena Hot Springs, but said the bill is for the whole
state and may interfere with DEC's obligations.
VICE CHAIR FATE pointed out that other regulations and laws
apply [to hot springs]. He asked Ms. Adair if she is aware of
other statutes and regulations that cover Representative Green's
question. He noted that he had read some.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN clarified the question: If the bill were
enacted the way it is written, would it cause conflict with the
[role] of the department? He noted that she had suggested some
changes. He asked her if [DEC] would be in conflict.
MS. ADAIR said that is "correct." She explained that as the
bill is currently written, it would cover all types of pools.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said the problem is that subsection (a)
says the [hot springs] is exempt from further water quality
regulations, so nothing else is going to apply to the [hot
spring]. She commented that that is the dangerous part; that is
causing her concern.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER read from lines 8 and 9 of the bill,
"and the pool is free from dangerous levels of disease-causing
pathogens". He characterized this [provision] as a very open
window that the DEC can take advantage of.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked for clarification. She also asked
if that language is currently in law.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER answered that it is subject to
significant interpretation by DEC. He said it would be foolish
to prescribe a law that was so specific as not to allow [DEC] to
fulfill its mandate to protect the public health. He suggested
that the inclusion of those few words has provided that
opportunity. He said it also meets the needs of those who are
in the hot springs business or want to be in the hot springs
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked Ms. Adair if DEC had a definition
of that. She also asked if [DEC is] regulated by [the phrase]
"dangerous levels of disease-causing pathogens".
MS. ADAIR said that DEC does not have a definition for that
phrase. She remarked that she interpreted it along the lines
that Representative Whitaker did. She explained that DEC would
look at various types of pathogens known to exist in water. She
said she doesn't know that the water would be free of [disease-
causing pathogens], but they would be below the levels -
depending on what the pathogen is - that would be of concern.
She explained that those aren't the only water quality criteria
for a pool. She said "scummy" water is unwanted; it might not
be a disease-causing pathogen that causes the "scum," but some
people don't want to go to a swimming pool and have a layer of
"crud" on the top. That would not be covered under this bill,
if it were to pass as it is written.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER responded to concerns about the water
condition. He suggested that not only would DEC be displeased,
but neither would any potential customer. He said it makes moot
the notion of a commercial activity associated with "scummy,
VICE CHAIR FATE commented that there are standards. He said
there are drinking water standards, swimming pool standards, and
all kinds of standards as far as the allowable pathogens in
water for different water quality uses. He explained that this
was a standard that was set; it was placed in this statute
because the state had agreed it was a safe standard.
MR. KARL commented on a remark by Representative Green in regard
to the water changeover. He said that was strictly the flow-
through characteristic; that's what's flowing out of the pool
that can be measured. He reiterated that [Chena Hot Springs]
pumps 90,000 gallons of [water] out of the [hot springs] to pump
the [water] down. He said that the pump has to keep going to
keep up; as this is being done, there is another 80,000 gallons
flowing through the ground, not going out the top. He commented
that there is a tremendous amount of water flowing through the
valley, which is called groundwater. He said that the
definition of pool is causing a hang-up. He suggested the
definition of the water of a hot springs is a spring with
"curative" properties. He commented that it's got to be a
mineral and "medicinal" water to fit in its criteria.
MR. KARL reiterated that [the standard of] 100 [fecal coliform]
colonies or less per 100 milliliters comes right out of the
recreational water standards for the State of Alaska. He said
all of the recreational waters of the state abide by the same
rule; it is a rule that has been set and found to be safe. He
pointed out that with the kind of water that's running through a
hot spring, when the ground is excavated, there is a tremendous
amount of groundwater that is flowing; it does not sit still.
He said Janice Adair had brought to his attention that Chena
Lake is such a safe place because of all of the groundwater
flowing through it. He said that he'd thanked her for that
because she is the one who led him to do the study on
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE commented that her only concern with the
bill is that the language is so broad. She referred to the
language, "and the pool is free from dangerous levels of
disease-causing pathogens". She said she thinks a situation
involving harassment could result. She explained that that is
why she originally asked, when the [water] would be tested, what
the mechanism would be. She noted that she thought there was an
incredible amount of latitude for DEC to do its job. She said
she is "dumbfounded" by Ms. Adair's response that this bill
would not allow her to do her job. She said it is set at the
state standard for fecal coliform; it's also free from dangerous
levels of disease-causing pathogens.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked Ms. Adair for an example of why
she might need to have a fecal coliform count that is lower -
something that might cause problems to humans that isn't a
pathogen. She pointed out that those are the only two
protections this bill has.
MS. ADAIR said she couldn't think of a situation in which DEC
would need to have a lower fecal coliform standard, except
perhaps if the pool was being used by a susceptible population;
for example, elderly people might be more susceptible to
diseases and might require a lower standard. She said that
she'd stated in her letter [May 3, 2001] that DEC doesn't have a
problem with the [fecal coliform] standard; the concern is with
its being in statute. She explained that as science evolves and
the water quality standard is changed for fecal coliform, she
thinks the [statute] should change also. She pointed out that
the water quality standards are not set in statute; they are
generally federally derived. She said DEC would want to follow
that, which would mean changing this statute.
MS. ADAIR explained that pathogens are, by definition, bacteria
that can cause disease in humans. She pointed out that there
could be chemicals of concern, such as organic chemicals that
may not fall into [subsection] (a).
TAPE 02-1, SIDE B
VICE CHAIR FATE disagreed with Ms. Adair's [definition] of
pathogens. He suggested that pathogens are much more than
bacteria; pathogens usually are not chemicals, but are under
another classification. He went on to say that they are usually
organisms that can be bacterial, viral, and amoebic that impair
or affect adversely the health of the individual. For example,
if it's a pathogen for a horse, then it affects horses; if it's
a human pathogen, then it affects a human adversely.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said she thought Ms. Adair said that
there are chemicals aside from pathogens that might be a
problem. She asked if there could be a level of flow-through
that could be measured that might flush everything out. She
mentioned that during the discussion on the "cruise bill" it was
one of the considerations - a strong flow-through and the
flushing activity result in less problems. She suggested that a
certain level of flow-through might resolve the issue.
VICE CHAIR FATE suggested that the level of flow-through would
be different in different-sized bodies [of water]; the level of
flow-through would also be different to attain the standard of
pathogens as enumerated in this legislation in different areas.
He said that it would extremely difficult to do as
[Representative Kerttula suggested]. He said the standard that
necessitates a flow-through is already in this bill; it is the
100 [fecal coliform] colonies per 100 milliliters of water.
Whatever the flow-through it takes to get to that standard is
what's going to be required. He suggested that the [standard]
is broad enough to allow DEC to regulate and do the testing. He
reiterated that the [idea] was to allow DEC to do its job and
set the standard that was put in place by the state. He
reiterated that he was not against amending the [language] if
there is a better word than flow-through.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE offered her belief that if the standard
changed, in the event that something occurred for which "we"
couldn't be prepared, Ms. Adair would have the authority to
enact emergency regulations to deal with that particular
situation because her job, as stated in the bill, gives her the
very broad authority to ensure that the pool is free from
dangerous levels of disease-causing pathogens.
MS. ADAIR interjected that DEC would not have that authority;
the statute always prevails. She said the statute in regard to
the fecal coliform level is specific and clear, and DEC could
not by regulation overturn that statute. She explained that if
it was determined that 100 [fecal coliform] colonies was not the
right standard and it should be 50 colonies or less, without a
change in statute DEC would be unable to implement that fecal
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE asked Ms. Adair if she would prefer there
to be no standard of fecal coliform in this bill.
MS. ADAIR explained that in the letter sent [May 3, 2001] she
had suggested a cross-reference to the water quality standard.
She said DEC would prefer that it follow the water quality
standard. That is the standard that DEC uses, and it is the
standard in the bill. She explained that the [standard] would
only change if the water quality standard for recreational
VICE CHAIR FATE said the legislature can amend it at any time;
that doesn't present a huge problem. He commented that other
agencies can declare an emergency and shut the [hot springs]
down. He said that just because the DEC doesn't have that
capability doesn't mean it can't influence a different outcome.
He offered his belief that the committee doesn't have a problem
with lowering the standard, if it is required; the committee
wouldn't raise the [standard], however, for any reason.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN referred to the description of the
[standard] in the bill. He said the 100 [fecal coliform]
colonies and the dangerous levels of disease-causing pathogens
were agreed to by DEC for this particular area [Chena Hot
Springs]. He asked if that would also be agreeable to another
MS. ADAIR said that is right for Chena Hot Springs; the 100
[fecal coliform] colonies is what DEC uses. She explained that
DEC does not allow any fecal coliform levels in swimming pools
or concrete pools. She said that is because there is no
competing bacteria in the [pool] and the level can [grow
tremendously]. She explained that the fecal coliform level for
all other pools that DEC regulates is zero, with the exception
of the "rock lake" at Chena Hot Springs.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Ms. Adair if there is a way to
satisfy DEC if a hot springs is similar to Chena Hot Springs:
the bottom is not solid, is not lined, and allows for flow-
through. He mentioned modifying the legislation] to include
that the [hot springs] must not be a containment pool; it is a
pool that allows egress of the water other than over the top or
MS. ADAIR commented that she thought DEC could work with that.
She indicated DEC might consider a definition of flow-through
that [provides] for sufficient turnover so there is enough water
flowing through to dilute the bacteria.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked how that would deal with [Mr. Karl]
at Chena Hot Springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE replied that he didn't know about Chena Hot
Springs. He pointed out that not everybody in the [rural] areas
where the [hot springs are located] has the capability of
putting crushed gravel in the hot springs. He said he did not
care what the bottom of the [hot springs] is made of as long as
the proper flow-through rate is maintained to ensure that the
[fecal coliform] colonies do not rise above a certain level. He
said that the [criterion] is the flow-through.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said she [interpreted Vice Chair Fates'
testimony] to mean that he would like to protect the natural hot
springs. She indicated that Representative Green's and her
concern is that they don't want to give that same kind of
allowance to the swimming pool at Juneau-Douglas High School
(JDHS) swimming pool, for example. She asked if there is an
easy way to change the definition slightly so that the hot
springs are exempt and the other [pools] are kept within the
water quality standards.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE suggested adding [an amendment] to
subsection (b) so that it includes "with the rate of exchange
adequate to maintain safe pathogen levels". She commented that
the committee had the idea and wants to have a safe level of
MS. ADAIR suggested that [subsection] (a) is establishing the
safe levels for fecal coliform. She said she thinks it is
inferred that the flow-through, as explained by Vice Chair Fate,
has to be sufficient to get there. She explained that DEC has a
problem with the definition of flow-through hot springs pool; it
could be made out of anything. It could be a cement pool, for
example, a completely manmade structure that has a hot springs
as its water source. She said that it would not bubble up from
the bottom; it would not have gravel or mud for the floor; it
could be the JDHS pool, but instead of the source being the City
and Borough of Juneau water supply, it would be a hot springs.
She explained that that pool would be able to have a fecal
coliform [count] of 100 colonies or less; there would be no
other competing bacteria in that pool because it would have a
cement body. She indicated that this scenario would result in a
public health problem.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said the notion of a concrete pool as
opposed to a rock pool or slime bottom pool is perhaps not the
issue. He suggested that the issue is, regardless of the bottom
or the makeup of the pool, that the [pool] is safe. He said the
idea of the JDHS pool being affected by this legislation is not
the case because this legislation only relates to flow-through
hot springs pools. He asked if the task was to regulate all of
the bathing areas throughout the state in a safe manner or in
manner that fits a particular regulatory framework. He
suggested that the only task is to protect public health; this
bill would allow for some surety on the behalf of those who
would try to provide that. He commented that he is strongly in
favor of the bill.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he thinks that [subsection] (b) is
still important. He indicated that DEC has a problem with the
definition. He said that is because if the pool has naturally
occurring hot springs water - enough to fill what is draining
out but a very small amount - and [the fecal coliform levels
are] below 100, it would qualify. He suggested that Ms. Adair
is saying that this would create a health problem. He asked Ms.
Adair if he was right.
MS. ADAIR indicated that he was partially right. She said that
she is not suggesting that this bill applies to the JDHS pool.
She explained that if the source of water for that pool were a
naturally occurring hot springs pool, then it would apply. She
said that nothing in the bill specifies that it applies to a hot
springs that is fed by a hot spring; instead, it [specifies]
pool, and there is no definition of pool to suggest that it does
not apply to a cement pool or a concrete pool. She said that is
a huge concern.
MS. ADAIR commented that the turnover, where the turnover is
very slight, is another concern. She said she understands
through the sponsor that the goal is that the turnover be
sufficient to maintain this level of fecal coliform and for a
natural hot springs. She said that is not necessarily the
problem; the problem is a manmade container for which the water
source is a hot springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE said that really didn't start out to be the
problem, but it is now. He said his concern is that Ms. Adair
agreed with Representative Green's description of the levels
prescribed in the bill, which is the state's level, and then she
[cites health concerns]. He said he is confused by some of the
testimony. He commented that the health of the water body
without the use of chlorine is the [committee's goal]. He
reiterated that people will not use a concrete-bottom [hot
springs] or a concrete swimming pool for medicinal purposes;
they will go in there to swim, which is under completely
MS. ADAIR interjected that it's not [under different
regulations]. She said that is kind of how DEC got started with
[creation] of the agreement for Chena Hot Springs.
VICE CHAIR FATE asked her to describe the differences. He added
that he is trying to point out that a swimming pool and hot
springs have different descriptions. He said swimming pools are
under different criteria.
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE asked Representative Whitaker if he would
be amenable to accept in part Ms. Adair's letter where she
attempts to describe a modified hot springs in such a way that
it differentiates between a hot springs and a pool. She noted
that the committee had defined flow-through hot springs pool.
She said the committee wanted to give assurances that people
aren't going to put hot springs water in a pool at JDHS. She
asked if there is a way to add a definition that would make
everybody feel comfortable that that couldn't happen.
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said he would be hesitant to, on the
spot, endorse language changes. He commented that the [sponsor]
of this bill would have to make that determination as to whether
that works. He said he thinks that there are separate swimming
pool statutes and regulations that are very clear about what a
swimming pool is; this makes the [definition] of a flow-through
hot springs clear. He commented that there is clarity between
the two. He said he is absolutely certain that interpretation
of swimming pool statutes and regulations will allow for
whatever is necessary to provide DEC the authority that it needs
to oversee swimming pools. He suggested that this provides DEC
the authority it needs to oversee flow-through hot springs.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether, if the committee could not
resolve the issue, there would be any objection to [Vice Chair
Fate's] working with Ms. Adair, rather than force something
through that [DEC] is going to fight. That way, the committee
could move legislation that is satisfactory to everybody.
VICE CHAIR FATE said that he had no objections with one caveat:
there is an intent behind this legislation, and as the sponsor,
he will not allow that intent to be circumvented or to go in
another direction. He said that before he takes any further
action on this, he would like to hear public testimony.
ALAN VERBITSKY, Registered Professional Engineer, testified via
teleconference. He informed the committee that he has been
involved in village safe water on the Island of Kodiak, with the
Kodiak Island village utility council for the last ten years.
He said he is pretty aware of what is required for safe water.
He said he finds the legislation the way it's written to be
fairly decent; he is surprised that fecal coliform is separated
out of the dangerous levels of disease-causing pathogens. He
explained that because of the way it's written, the ability to
determine dangerous levels is usually done by the state or
massive changes are usually done by the federal government and
adopted by the state. He indicated that subsection (a) is
acceptable. Regarding [subsection (b)], the definition of flow-
through, he said it is hard to get past the hot springs
[definition]. Hot springs are unique - they only occur
occasionally. He said he isn't sure he would be inclined to
apply swimming pool standards to a hot springs for that reason.
MR. VERBITSKY referred to the comparison between Liard Hot
Springs and Chena Hot Springs. He explained that he goes to
Liard Hot Springs at least twice a year; he can [verify] from
personal experience that it has been dammed, dug out, lined with
rock, and enlarged. He indicated that it is much different from
the original, naturally occurring creek that it was. He said
sulfur hot springs such as those that occur in the Fairbanks
area have a lot of sulfur dioxide in them, which acts as a
natural disinfectant; that is why there are not as many fecal
coliform in [hot springs] as there are in a lake environment.
MR. VERBITSKY commented that there is no advantage for an
operator of a hot springs to have dangerous pathogens or try to
bump the limits of fecal coliform. He explained that if a hot
springs or a resort of any type gets a bad reputation, then it
can be really difficult to overcome. He said Chena Hot Springs
has a horrible reputation that it incurred when the state was
operating it. He explained that there are a lot of people who
don't come here; when the name Chena Hot Springs is mentioned,
they kind of laugh about it. He said when he tells those people
that the state isn't operating it anymore, the people say,
"Maybe it's changed, then." He said the state didn't do Chena
Hot Springs any service in its ownership and operation.
MR. VERBITSKY explained that hot springs pools are generally
built or established right over the top of an existing hot
springs; the water comes up through the bottom of the floor. He
said it is fairly easy to check a hot springs to find out where
the water is coming up: just feel the gravel, and if it's
hotter than the water above it, then it's probably hot water
coming up through the floor. He commented that overall hot
springs, by their nature, have all of the competing bacteria
necessary to keep the [fecal] coliform levels in check.
MR. VERBITSKY said the only [problem] he can see in this bill
possibly is the frequency of testing more [fecal] coliform
levels than [dangerous] pathogens. He asked how frequently the
[hot springs] is going to be tested. He said that is the only
part of this that he sees somewhat differently. He commented
that the semantics and pedantics involved in debating what
constitutes a flow-through hot springs pool he finds humorous at
MR. VERBITSKY suggested that for the first time there will be
legislation that actually sets a standard. He said in the past
it's been a knee-jerk reaction to chlorinate the "heck" out of
everything and ask questions later, whether the chlorination is
even necessary. He said, "In here what we're saying is, let's
check to see if disinfection is necessary." He commented that
he finds that to be forward-thinking and common sense. He said
obviously if the dangerous levels for pathogens are [excluded]
or the [count] is over 100 [fecal coliform] colonies per 100
milliliters, nobody's going to operate there, which would result
in a really "sorry" situation, and the DEC is not going to allow
MR. VERBITSKY suggested that the legislation as it's written is
pretty good. He said it does give the DEC a lot of latitude,
more so than any of the standards that it's replacing or is to
be included with. He referred to AS 44.46 as a "hunk of paper
that doesn't say anything." He said this is the "first actual
paragraph that's meaningful in there."
WILL JOHNSON, Pilot, testified via teleconference. He informed
the committee that he has been going to [Chena] Hot Springs
since the end of the state's "realm"; he used the small, natural
pools that were previously there, although they looked as though
they had some previous improvements. He said there is no
question at all that the present facility is an improvement; any
change at all would be an improvement over what was previously
in the mud. He explained that there was knee-deep mud, hot
places in the mud that could cause a burn; presently, it's much
more sanitary, clean, and neat.
MR. JOHNSON said he can honestly compare [Chena Hot Springs] to
Liard River Hot Springs. He commented that based on his own
experiences, he agrees with Mr. Verbitsky's testimony that
[Chena Hot Springs] is highly modified. He explained that just
the access has increased the [user limit] over what it could
have without the improvements; a deck extends out over the hot
springs itself, it's dammed up, and it's deeper than what it
would have been naturally. He said it's very clear that
[improvements] have been made. He commented that likes the hot
springs the way they are because he doesn't want any unnatural
additives. When he gets in that water, it feels good; he feels
good for many hours afterwards and feels that his health is
better. He explained that the last thing he wants is the [hot
springs water] changed; he wants it the way it comes out of the
MR. JOHNSON commented that anything done to change that water,
since it flows through naturally, is going to end up in the
[local] rivers and streams and that can't be good. He said he
thinks that the wording in the bill is very simple and
straightforward and would allow the (indisc.) of an operator who
spends a lot of money to make the kind of improvements that have
been made at Chena Hot Springs.
SKIP COX, Resident, testified via teleconference. He informed
the committee that he had a prepared statement. He spoke in
support of the way HB 263 is currently written. When passed
were to move hot springs from the generalized regulatory idea of
categorizing hot springs as being similar to swimming pools, hot
tubs, and other types of spas. He commented that he is speaking
specifically about Chena Hot Springs Resort.
MR. COX said swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas are artificial
containers or vessels that hold water for recreational purposes;
recreation requires regulation that will ensure measuring the
chemical makeup of the water to keep recreational users safe
from contaminates that users bring to the activity. He said the
water is measured on a scheduled basis determined by the
Department of Environmental Conservation; the measurement is
evaluated against a water colony chart, and when the score of
the evaluation is above or below the recommended standards,
chemicals are added to the water to bring it back within a safe
range. He explained that the effect that is taking place is the
sterilization of the water to prevent users from recreating in
water that might cause them to get a variety of discomforting
MR. COX said in his opinion hot springs are a completely
different environment from swimming pools and should be treated
differently in a regulatory fashion. Historically, hot springs
are not in themselves a recreational experience; people would
congregate around hot springs to live or work or create
recreational experiences, but are not ever used for recreation.
He suggested that swimming, floating, or horseplay are not what
people do because the water is not conducive to recreation. Hot
springs are used as a component of a holistic approach to better
health, mental and physical relaxation, and participation in a
naturally occurring environment.
MR. COX said that creating a regulatory paragraph relating to
water quality standards for hot springs that coincides with
those for swimming pools would completely dissolve an
individual's opportunity to use the natural healing waters that
Mother Nature has provided. He said that he can't imagine
people participating in a crusade for better health in a pool of
water that is quantified by the amount of chlorine or muriatic
acid that is being added on an hourly basis; indigenous healers
in Alaska have used benefits of minerals found in hot springs
for thousands of years to heal the members of their tribes and
groups. He explained that Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward
Peninsula has been used by hundreds from villages across Western
Alaska to cure the aches and pains from their subsistence
lifestyle. He commented that the soaking area of Serpentine is
MR. COX said Pilgrim Hot Springs, located near Nome, Alaska, has
been used for thousands of years for the same purpose: health,
not recreation. He noted that Pilgrim Hot Springs' soaking area
is a flow-thorough. He said he has lived on the Seward
Peninsula for 30 years and has [bathed] in both the Serpentine
[Hot Springs] and the Pilgrim Hot Springs. He commented that he
can't recall a single story, newspaper article, or commentary on
anyone suffering from any disease or illness at any time because
of a lack of chlorine or muriatic acid in either of these
locations. He said that Chena Hot Springs' "rock lake" is a
flow-through. Clients using this area are using it for health
reasons first, and if there is recreation occurring in the lake,
it is social in nature: people enjoying the medicinal healing
of the water while enjoying pleasant conversations with each
other. He explained that he had not seen any indication of
accidents from horseplay, heat exhaustion from recreating, or
complaints about disease or unhealthy or unsanitary conditions;
on the contrary, the only complaints that he gets are from
parents who would like their children to participate in the
healing waters of Chena, which is a result of a rule that is
self-imposed that keeps children under the age of 18 out of that
lake. He said that the feeling is it is not an appropriate
place for children to be.
MR. COX encouraged the legislature to approve this bill in a
timely fashion to exempt hot springs from further water quality
regulation by DEC, allowing people to pursue their desire to
soak in the healing waters of the naturally occurring hot
spring. Second, he encouraged all legislators, especially those
listening to this testimony, to come to Chena Hot Springs and
sample the place firsthand.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS commented that Mr. Cox had brought up an
interesting point. He asked Ms. Adair if there has ever been a
recorded instance of illness or disease from any of the Alaska
MS. ADAIR replied that DEC doesn't regulate those hot springs
that exist out in the [rural areas]. The Epidemiology Section
in the Department of Health and Social Services would have any
reports from doctors about potential illnesses from those
CONNIE PARKS-KARL, Co-Owner, Chena Hot Springs Resort, testified
via teleconference. She informed the committee that when they
purchased the [Chena] Hot Springs in 1998, one of the main
complaints from visitors was that they were disappointed to
arrive and find that they were unable to go into the hot
springs, but had to go into a chlorinated pool or hot tub. She
commented that they've alleviated that by [adding] the outdoor
rock lake that [visitors] can go in, which is not chlorinated.
MS. PARKS-KARL also read a letter from Leslie Markham, which
I, Leslie Markham, of 2597 Hafele Avenue, Fairbanks,
am speaking and writing in support of House Bill
Number 263. Natural hot springs are very therapeutic
and have been known to help mitigate the symptoms of
As a massage therapist, I have worked with Eskimo
doctor Charles Jones of [the] Kotzebue area at several
remote natural hot springs; these springs are his
preferred location for helping people. He says each
spring has a different makeup, has different minerals
in the water, and can help cure different ailments.
Charlie believes the body absorbs the minerals it
needs from the water to heal itself. For this reason,
naturalists prefer it over chemically treated waters.
The bill also addresses an important element: flow-
through. The flow will stay healthy with adequate
flow-through. Chena Hot Springs outside of Fairbanks
presents a unique opportunity to experience natural
waters close to town. For those who prefer,
chlorinated pools are also available. Information is
posted so people may make an informed choice. To have
such healing waters naturally within driving distance
to Fairbanks is a gift for which I am grateful and
consider a large asset. Promotion of the natural
healing properties can benefit the community greatly.
Sincerely, Leslie Markham.
BOB MILLER, Owner, Arctic Circle Hot Springs, testified via
teleconference. He informed the committee that he had several
facts and a little history on the Arctic Circle Hot Springs,
which he purchased in 1980. He said that he was quite familiar
with the hot springs back in 1936-37 when he worked up in that
vicinity at Edwood Mining Company (ph). He said that he was
over at the hot springs seven nights a week for the two seasons
that he worked there. He commented that he liked the [hot
springs] very well, which is the reason he bought it in 1980.
MR. MILLER explained that [Arctic Circle Hot Springs] is a
natural hot springs; it flows out of the ground on a slight
hillside and comes out of several fissures into a line,
[approximately] 100 feet from all of the fissures into the pool;
there are also separate lines leading off to other directions.
He explained that the [water] goes through a filter naturally
and then into a pool, and the water is very pure. He said that
Arctic Circle Hot Springs was discovered in about 1907; it flows
at 400 gallons per minute and is 139-degree water. He explained
that water flows through a pool setting and it's been this way
since he's [owned] it. He said that there is an Olympic-size
pool there, and in approximately 10.5 hours about 250,000
gallons of water runs through the pool, which has flow-through.
MR. MILLER explained that for at least 60 years prior to his
purchase of [Arctic Circle Hot Springs] the old pool was just
dug out of a hole in the ground. He said it was rather large
and it was used as a regular pool for the public. He explained
that he was there and had seen it. It had no chlorine in it; it
was full of algae, "green stuff," and willows. He said that he
really didn't ever hear of anybody getting sick there or any ill
effects from it; he said they pooled the water so that it
doesn't have too much sulfur smell to it. He said the water was
cooled and people drank it. He explained that he also drinks
the water; the only difference is that he adds a small amount of
[chlorine bleach] and drinks it just like he would out of a
well. He indicated that he has had no ill effects from drinking
MR. MILLER said there is really no need for chlorine, and the
real reason that he uses it is because it is required by law.
He commented that it is a great waste of time and money, it is
quite expensive and that he doesn't like it. He indicated that
there was a lawsuit approximately ten years ago involving a
woman who sued the government because she claimed that she had
vision problems as a result of the chlorine that was used in the
swimming pools that she swam in; he didn't know the outcome of
the lawsuit. He commented that he thought that should be taken
into consideration in regard to chlorine.
MR. MILLER explained that he had been to Chena [Hot Spring] a
few times and he considered it to be a "cesspool"; he wouldn't
dare stick his toe in it for fear that bugs would bite him. He
offered his understanding that DEC doesn't required [Chena] to
use chlorine. He commented that he [didn't know] why [DEC]
wouldn't require Chena [Hot Springs] to do something that is
required by [other hot spring operations], which makes it tough
on [the others]. He turned attention to [subsection] (b), "hot
spring constantly enters the pool to replace an equal amount of
water constantly being drained from the pool." He indicated
that that he is confused about what the differences are in the
various hot springs located throughout Alaska.
TAPE 02-2, SIDE A
MR. MILLER commented that he had to keep the public satisfied or
he wouldn't have any customers. He said that the public demands
that the [hot springs] is taken care of. He said that he would
highly recommend this bill exactly as it is. He suggested
keeping the bill as simple as possible.
TOM DELONG, President, Tolovana Hot Springs Limited, testified
via teleconference. He told the committee that Tolovana Hot
Springs is about 11 miles off of the Elliott Highway about 100
miles north of Fairbanks. He said it is a remote natural hot
springs and it operates using a reservation system; it is
operated under a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease. He
said, "In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed a presidential
proclamation that said all hot springs, whether known or
unknown, are now property of the United States"; Circle Hot
Springs, Chena, and Manley were all homesteaded prior to 1913
and this presidential proclamation. "The purpose of the
presidential proclamation was to reserve these waters known or
unknown for United States residents for their medicinal
properties," he suggested.
MR. DELONG said interest in Tolovana and business activity there
about 10 to 20 percent every year. He said that he's operated
it for about 14 years and has never used or even contemplated
using any kind of chlorine. He explained that he uses a flow-
through-type system; he has small tubs made of cedar, and he has
recently started to introduce some small 600- to 1,800- gallon
plastic water tanks. He said that the water is piped by gravity
directly from the fissures and the natural vents in the ground
right into the hot springs, which flows through rather quickly.
He commented that the flow-through rate could be increased or
decreased. He said that currently it flows through every two
hours or so; the pools can be drained and refilled.
MR. DELONG pointed out that the chemistry of the water is the
reason hot springs pools are unique and don't need chlorination.
He suggested that hot springs water naturally has an ability to
keep pathogens and bacteria from growing; just the fact that it
is hot springs water is very important. He said that experts in
the field pointed out that dangerous pathogens are greatly
reduced at temperatures above 98 degrees Fahrenheit. He
suggested consulting some experts to address the properties of
natural hot springs water including its natural ability to keep
bacteria in check and the reduction in pathogens through
temperature alone. He said that he supports the bill as it is
written. He said he is interested in knowing what it takes to
meet the standard; this bill helps him to understand what the
standards are, such as with fecal coliform. He said he is
trying to develop Tolovana Hot Springs, and it is extremely
important to him that a bill like this passes because it gives
him the information that he needs to plan and to go forward.
MR. DELONG stated that his clientele and his interests in the
waters of Tolovana do not involve chlorine. He said that he
will do anything and everything required to keep the people who
are going out to Tolovana bathing in pure, natural hot springs
water. He told the committee that if for any reason he had to
chlorinate the hot springs to meet a standard, then he would
probably walk away from it; he has no interest in bathing in
chlorinated water, and his clientele have no interest in
traveling 11 miles off of the road to bathe in chlorinated
water. He suggested that this bill is clearly needed to address
his situation and that it would help him with any future plans
in keeping everyone safe and happy.
VICE CHAIR FATE said that because he was acting as the chair, he
was not going to give his intent on whether to move this bill
out or not. He said that he would entertain a motion to hold
the bill over or move it out.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN moved that HB 263 be held over for at least
one hearing to see if there could be some reconciliation with
DEC. He said it sounds as if it's a minor difference.
VICE CHAIR FATE said that he would like to work with DEC. He
commented that he would like to move the bill out of the
committee, however, because it still has to go through other
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA, after confirming that the bill has no
other House referrals, said she would really like the
opportunity to work with Representative Green and [Vice Chair
Fate, as sponsor] to come up with language that resolves the
issue about the broadness of possibly applying to other pools.
She said she knows that is not the intent, but would hate to
have to wait until the bill goes to the House floor to do that.
She reiterated that she would like the bill to be held over.
VICE CHAIR FATE said the motion is to hold the bill over until
the next meeting of the House Resources Standing Committee, and
that he will work with DEC before the next meeting to try to
address concerns that had been expressed at the current
committee meeting. He said his intent is not to rewrite the
bill, however, and that his preference is to move the bill out
and then amend it on the House floor or in the Senate.
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said she can understand the concern
about moving bills through. She said, however, that she thinks
that the testimony the [committee] heard is significant. She
commented that based on her experience in dealing with the
"cruise bill," there are serious concerns when the subject is
human health. She noted that she had two specific concerns.
The first is whether there are other substances besides
pathogens that the committee should be concerned about, which
Karen Pearson, the director of the Division of Public Health,
has promised to answer. The second one is about pools that are
manmade. She said that if the committee moves the bill today,
then she will ask that those two sections be amended to include
some definition on that. She said it would be better to wait
one meeting to resolve that.
VICE CHAIR FATE said that he thinks the bill is needed, it's a
good bill, and he wants it to go through. He commented that if
possible he would like it to be unanimous, however. He said
that there has been a question asked by DEC, and members of the
committee have responded by saying maybe those questions should
be answered; he has no objection to that. He explained that his
only objection was the timeline that the committee is going to
be up against.
VICE CHAIR FATE asked whether there was any objection to holding
HB 263 over. There being no objection, he announced that HB 263
would be held over.