Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
The U.S. government in the past has left swimming pool and spa regulation, rules, and enforcement up to state and local municipalities. That changed on December 17th 2007 when The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, commonly referred to as the VGBA Act, or P&SS Act, was signed into law. The law became effective in December, 2008 and affects residential and public swimming pools and spas nationwide. The lead agency responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the VGBA Act is the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC). The purpose of the new law was to mandate certain safety features that would reduce the number of drownings due to suction entrapment. Safer main drain covers and secondary anti-entrapment devices are two of the important items that must be addressed on all public pools and spas. Details of the law can be found at the CPSC website www.poolsafely.gov.
Americans with Disabilities Act
In January, 2012, the Justice Department issued a guidance document titled “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Accessible Pools – Accessible Means of Entry and Exit”, to explain the new rules enacted to assist bathers with disabilities improved access to certain public pool and spa facilities. Many of these facilities included hotels, motels, health clubs, recreation centers, public country clubs and other businesses in understanding how the requirements apply to them.
For new and existing pools and spas, compliance with the new ADA laws meant the installation of an ADA-approved chairlift. Complete details of the law can be found here.STATE OF FLORIDA RULES
Florida Building Code All newly built or modified existing public pools and spas in the State of Florida must comply with rules found in the Florida Building Code Fifth Edition, Section 454.1 “ SWIMMING POOLS AND BATHING PLACES (public)”. This code section is the primary guidance document used by all Florida commercial pool contractors and engineers. Prior to issuing a building permit, building department plan reviewers in your municipality will scrutinize plans submitted for a proposed new pool or spa, or a proposed renovation that qualifies as a ‘modification’. The plans and subsequent inspections for work in progress or completed work must comply with FBC 454.1.
The building department’s involvement with the new or modified pool ends after the pool/spa is constructed or existing pool modified, and all building department inspections passed and permit closed out. Subsequent regulation and monitoring of a completed pool or spa is provided by the Florida Department of Health.
The Florida Building Code is on a triennial review cycle.
Florida Department of Health (FDOH) The Florida Department of Health is a state agency that establishes rules, provides operating permits, and routinely inspects and monitors existing pools and spas, specifically for all water quality and safety rules found in Chapter 64E-9 of the Florida Administrative Code (FAC).
FDOH offices throughout Florida provide local inspections, enforcement, and educational resources for pool and spa operations.
Routine inspections by FDOH field inspectors takes place twice per year. Pool owner/operators are notified at the time of inspection of violations requiring correction. A written copy of the inspection is provided to the pool operator/owner, along with a time frame to bring the deficient items into compliance, or face non-renewal of the pool operating permit, closure of pool, permit revocation and possibly legal action and fines, depending on the severity for the deficiency or refusal to comply.
The FDOH has a very useful website to provide rules, forms, and other valuable information for the safe operation of you pool and spa. The FDOH website is www.flhealth.gov and This Link will take you directly to the swimming pool section.LOCAL RULES
Besides Federal and State rules regulating pools and spas, your local municipality or county government may have additional rules for compliance in new construction, renovations of existing pools, and operations of existing pools. These vary from municipality to municipality, so you will need to check with your local building department if you need to learn about any special local requirements.