A new Kansas law has led to the closing — at least temporarily — of water slides across the state.
Kansas lawmakers passed the law tightening regulations on rides earlier this year following Caleb Schwab’s death last summer on the Verrückt, a 17-story water slide at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan.
The law took effect July 1, although lawmakers agreed to delay a criminal component from taking effect until January 2018 in an attempt to give ride operators more time to comply with the legislation.
Under the changes, amusement rides face new inspection and permit requirements.
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.”
But “the legislation is kind of confusing to people,” said Erik Sartorius, executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities.
It isn’t clear whether the water on some of the slides propels people forward, he said.
Cities are choosing to err on the side of caution if they’re not sure if they’re required to get a permit and an inspection, Sartorius said.
The Johnson County Park and Recreation District announced that a swirl slide at the Roeland Park Aquatic Center would be closed 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.
Cities are trying to get inspectors lined up to get their slides done as soon as they can, Sartorius said, though he noted “there are virtually no inspectors available.”
In Lindsborg, Kan., a water slide called “Thor’s Revenge” has also been closed.
Gary Shogren, the city’s parks director, said “kids aren’t happy, but we’ll do our best to get it back in operation.”
The new law also played a part in the city of Chanute, Kan., shutting down its water slide, parks director Todd Newman said.
But there were other concerns about the safety of the water slide. The slide was scratching children’s backs as they went down it, Newman said.
“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.